HOUSTON - With training camp less than two weeks away, Rockets players are already back on the Toyota Center practice court, working to get ready for the upcoming season. To find out what theyíve been up to this offseason, Rockets.comís Jason Friedman will sit down with each player over the days to come to discuss what theyíre working on, what their goals are, and how theyíve been spending the summer both on and off the court.
Taking his turn in the hot seat today is rookie forward Terrence Jones. What follows is a transcript of their conversation.
JCF: You were the third of the Rocketsí three first round picks this past summer. I think, quite naturally, most fans have a tendency to base their early expectations of player performance on where said player was drafted. As a result, I think you really surprised a lot of people with your strong summer league showing. What was that experience like for you?
TJ: From the beginning, I just wanted to come in and try to prove myself, knowing it was a fresh start for everyone. I didnít care about what happened in the draft, I just knew I wanted to go out and try to perform the best I could and fortunately I did well. Since then Iíve just been trying to improve and build off what I did in Vegas, keep improving and getting better for the season.
JCF: A lot of guys talk about coming in with a chip on their shoulder because of where they were drafted. Did you feel similarly or were you just happy to be in the NBA?
TJ: Thatís definitely something I used as motivation just because, like you said, people do put you in a certain category based on where you were drafted and thatís not how I want to be defined. The truth is I have to go out and perform just like the players that were drafted ahead or behind me do, and just like the players who are always in the league have to do. So Iím just focused on doing that right now.
JCF: This roster is shaping up to have quite a few guys who have the ability to play multiple positions. Do you think of yourself as having a specific position or do you just think of yourself as a basketball player?
TJ: Iíve just been doing the same thing I have my whole life which is just trying to be the best basketball player I can and helping my team at whatever position Iím playing. I just want to do whatever the coach needs at that position. I think thatís what helps me as a player and I just want to continue with that and get better at every position and learn from all the players and coaches we have here.
JCF: Where do you see yourself being able to help this team the most early on?
TJ: Right now I donít know. Iím just a rookie, so I donít really know what weíre going to be doing and what type of system weíre going to have. I just want to help improve the team as much as I can and have fun, enjoy this experience. Whether weíre running or slowing it down, I just want to help.
JCF: What have the coaches been focusing on when dissecting your play?
TJ: Coach McHale told me he really enjoyed how I played in Vegas and he wants me to work on being able to knock down open shots. But really they just want me to get better at everything. Again, being a rookie, I know I have so much to work on.
JCF: A big part of what makes you such an intriguing prospect is the fact you can be such a physical presence down low while also possessing the skills that give you the ability to make plays out on the wings as well. Can it be occasionally difficult for you to find the right balance between being a banger and being a perimeter playmaker?
TJ: Well (playing out on the perimeter) wasnít part of my role at Kentucky; I was inside. We had a team where everybody sacrificed, so we didnít really worry too much about taking full advantage of what everyone was capable of, we just did whatever was best for the sake of the team. And for that team, the best thing I could do was concentrate on doing the dirty work down low. Right now, Iím just doing a little bit of everything and itís a new challenge because I wasnít used to doing all this in college.
JCF: Whatís the No. 1 thing you use for motivation?
TJ: Iíd definitely say the people who doubt me. Also, I do what I do for my family, the people who love me, and for my fans who expect and hope for my success. I use that as motivation to get better and improve every day.
JCF: Now that youíve had some time to reflect on it, how do you think your experience at Kentucky Ė a two-year stretch that culminated with a national championship Ė shaped you as a person?
TJ: I think I just matured. I matured in terms of how I approached the game, how much I focused. Losing in the Final Four the year before, wanting to come back and win and then actually doing it, that was incredible. I had a chance to leave for the NBA after my freshman year but I came back because I wanted to win a championship. To actually do it, to reach that goal, it was a great feeling and I know I grew up a lot in the process.
JCF: Were there ever times when you questioned your decision to come back to school for one more year?
TJ: All the time, but only up until the season started. Once the season started, I was focused on that and just wanting to help my team win.
JCF: Whatís been your favorite part of the offseason so far?
TJ: Just being in the NBA. Itís just a blessing. The whole situation: moving, being in Houston and meeting all the fans, making my mom proud, making her happy and just trying to take care of her as much as possible. Thatís been the best thing.
I have high hopes for Terrence Jones, I just hope he steps up to the plate. He seemed a bit hesitant in the interview going with all these safe answers. Donatas was straight Gangster last year talking about taking on Dwight and not going into the woods!
Western Conference Fantasy Draft:
PG: Tyreke Evans $5,251,825
SG: Tony Allen $3,300,000
SF: Harrison Barnes $2,798,040
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge $13,500,000
C: Cousins $3,880,800
G: Darren Collison $2,319,344
C: Jermaine O'Neal $854,389
In 5 years who knows where any of the rookies will be, but it's going to be real hard not getting attached to these guys. Great attitude, great hustle and a desire to get better from all of them. I think TJones has a chance to be a hell of a starting PF in the league for a long time.
Man, 13 in 33, you're really predicting Terrance Jones averages close to a double double? That would be quite a feat! Don't know if I would bet on it, but it certainly would be nice....... Unfortunately, I doubt he'll get enough minutes even if he does turn out to be a prolific rebounder.
I hope the rooks impress during training camp. I'll be disappointed if they never see the court. Someone's going to have to play out of position to some degree if the new guys are going to play - like Terrence at 3, or Dmo at 5. Sink or swim time.
We don't need an artistic soul. We need an athletic soul. Royce's soul needs to stop writing songs and go to the soul gym to work on its soul athleticism.
NBA is more a mental game (granted that the physical aspects are important too). If he can't cope with the pressure, he shouldn't even be in the gym.
-Become a Red Rowdy
-Save enough money to to buy something in the Rockets shop
-Take a solo picture with the Power Dancers
-Get on the Big Screen
-Protest to lower the cost of food in the Toyota Center
-Meet at least one of the Rockets
-Get a free T-shirt they throw at us in the 4th quarter.
After watching him in the preseason and how effortless his points seemed to come and within the game rather than having plays run for him , I wouldnt bet against him. His game seems almost effortless , and I mean that as a compliment.
You watch him play and dont really notice him a whole lot , then you look at the box score and he's got 20/10.
I dont know what position he will get the majority of his minutes at , but he's going to get on the court early and often .... Could be at any of the three big spots.
I can see him getting minutes at SF behind Parsons .... at PF behind Motejunas and behind Asik at C as he can defend any of those three positions and thats what playing time for most bigs boils down to - Who can you defend?
Why do they call it common sense if its so uncommon ?