Duke basketball: Bulls eye Blue Devil for possible NBA Draft steal

Duke basketball (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

Wendell Carter Jr. could soon have some Duke basketball company in Chicago.

Finding a reliable backup point guard is easier said than done. However, as an NBA necessity, the lack of a quality one can cause any playoff run to come undone. As for swiping an instantly capable one with a mid-second-round pick, well, those hoping to get that done this year might just have to hope Duke basketball’s Tre Jones goes overlooked long enough.

Apparently, the Chicago Bulls are at least considering such a scenario with their No. 44 overall selection at the 2020 NBA Draft (still on the schedule for Oct. 16, but recent talks suggest that further delays to both that date and the Dec. 1 tipoff to the 2020-21 season are probably already in the pipeline).

A Wednesday tweet from Minneapolis KSTP sports anchor Darren Wolfson reported that the Bulls — who also hold the No. 4 overall pick, which is far higher than any mock draft projects Jones to come off the board — are among several franchises attempting to get a feel for the winning personality of the two-year Blue Devil:

Wolfson noted the hype from P3 Sports Science, which stems from the performance lab’s tweet in July that essentially uncovered the truth behind the most underappreciated part of the Tre Jones experience: his bounce and engine power. Have a look:

Tre Jones sure checked plenty of boxes as a Duke basketball great

Now, the tweet’s claims are no surprise to those who watched Jones keep up with eventual top 10 picks Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish throughout their 2018-19 Duke basketball campaign. He ensured those Blue Devils sizzled via his top-shelf foot speed, mental quickness, thread-the-needle passing, and alley-oop heaven. Yes, he’s adept at hanging with stars.

Next, as a sophomore and without quite as star-studded of a group by his side, Jones proved without a doubt that he enjoys the same clutch and leadership genes as brother Tyus (the elder Jones went No. 24 overall after guiding the Blue Devils to a national title in 2015 as a one-and-done and is nowadays an assist-to-turnover guru in the Memphis Grizzlies backcourt).

Plus, in nearly doubling his scoring average to 16.2 points during his second year in Durham while also increasing his assists to 6.4 per game, Tre Jones showed off a level of craftiness, finesse, and touch in traffic that should have him pinging more NBA radars as a mid-to-late first-rounder.

And we have yet to even mention the best weapon Jones offers. That is, of course, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound floor general’s impassioned defensive prowess, which in many ways resembles that of an NFL safety. His penchant for pickoffs and pickpocketing certainly sealed his ACC Defensive Player of the Year honor and largely contributed to his ACC Player of the Year award.

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All in all, the Bulls — who are still searching for a new head coach and, for the time being, feature two former Tobacco Road one-and-dones in Duke basketball’s Wendell Carter Jr. and UNC’s Coby White — would be lucky to snag Jones. The same goes for any franchise with one of the NBA Draft’s final 20 picks.

At the same time, though, should Jones indeed slide that low, look for those who passed him up between 20 and 40 to then regret such an oversight soon enough.

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more news and views regarding Tre Jones and all things Duke basketball.