In the hours following last week’s NBA Draft, one of the things that went viral was a video of former Tennessee guard Jordan Bone going through a 180 degree shift of emotions in a blink of an eye. In the opening moments, Jordan’s big brother takes the mic and seems to be in a saddened mood as he starts to talk to the audience with the idea that his little bro was going undrafted.
However, that thought quickly changed as the screen behind him showed that the man of the night was selected with the 57th overall pick by the Detroit Pistons. With that selection, the 6’3 guard joined Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams as the three Tennessee alums to get selected in the 2019 NBA Draft.
While the Bone family spent that Thursday night in a state of joy due to that late selection, the Tennessee alum will end up taking the path that you usually see from undrafted players. That route was revealed on June 21st when Detroit Free Press Pistons insider Vincent Ellis reported that the team would sign the Tennessee alum to a two-way deal when the new league year begins on June 30th. Their interest in Bone makes sense as the Pistons don’t have much in the way of point guard depth as Reggie Jackson and Khyri Thomas are the only two players with guaranteed deals that extend into the 2019-20 season.
In addition to positional need, it makes sense for the team to pursue the young guard when you look at his success with Tennessee. During Bone’s junior year with the team, he impressed by putting up 13.5 points, 5.8 assists and 3.2 rebounds on 46% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc on 3.8 attempts per game.
Those averages allowed him to maintain a very solid 56% True Shooting Percentage. That performance was a tremendous improvement compared to the prior two years where the young guard stood as an inefficient role player that didn’t have a True Shooting Percentage better than 49%. Bone’s progression allowed him to be an integral part of a Tennessee squad that finished 15-3 in SEC and were within fingertips reach of making their appearance in the Elite Eight since 2010. Bone’s progression and role on an excellent Tennessee squad led to him receiving some accolades which include: named by the coaches to the Second Team All-SEC and by the AP to All-SEC Second Team.
While his evolution as a scorer played a big part in his success with Tennessee, Bone’s biggest asset as a player would be facilitating. His great work is evident from statistics as he averaged 5.8 assists with a 2.9 assist/turnover ratio. When it comes to the SEC, both of those averages put him as the top dog among facilitators within that conference.
The young guard was able to stand as an elite facilitator through being an extremely unselfish player that can quickly spot open players. Bone’s favorite area to do that is standing on the top of the perimeter where he’s able to monitor where his four other teammates currently are and where they might go. When residing on his comfort spot, the young guard likes to push the ball into the paint through entry feeds or pushing the rock to open bigs or wings that are residing in that area. Entry passing is definitely where he shines brightest as the 6’3 guard does a fantastic job of throwing picture-perfect passes to bigs that put them in a good position in the low post or put their body in a position to get a clean look at the rim.
In addition to his fantastic work as an entry passer, Bone is also an effective pick-and-roll facilitator. A lot of that simply comes through him being patient as he waits for the perfect opportunity to hit the roll man in stride, whether it’s through a chest or pocket pass.
Those traits are seen in the clip below where the young guard is working in the pick-and-roll with Kyle Alexander. Following Alexander setting a screen, Bone takes a few steps to the right so he can get a good angle to hit his partner with a pocket pass right in the hands. After receiving that feed, the Tennessee big is in the perfect spot to make a shot from around the rim.
Alongside his fantastic facilitating, Bone obviously shined as a scorer as he is able to put up points as an on-ball driver, mid-range threat and perimeter shooter. Among those three traits, he probably has the highest upside as a driver largely due to having a fantastic first step that allowed him to drive past any opposing defender. However, he seemed most comfortable with utilizing off-ball screens to create openings as a driver during his time at Tennessee, which is a skill that the alum definitely excels at.
Once he gets into the paint, the young guard prefers to either finish at the right with his right or with a running floater. While floaters are looked at as an unreliable way to get buckets, Bone has mastered the approach to make it work by blowing by his defender before getting into the painted area and throwing up a running right-handed shot. Despite being a skinny 176 pound guard, he is an effective finisher in both ends as he shot 60% from within the restricted area and 47% on attempts from within 5-13 feet from the rim.
Sticking with his work inside the perimeter, Bone also stood out as a fantastic mid-range shooter due to being effective in every step of that approach. For starters, he does a nice job of getting to his spot by either utilizing his fantastic first step or off-ball screen to create separation from his man. Once getting to that spot, the Tennessee alum is effective as he hit 49% on shots from 13 feet to the NBA three-point line, according to a shot chart from the Stepien.
The biggest question mark regarding Bone’s work on the offensive end deals with his efficiency as a perimeter shooter. While most parts of his game progressed from his sophomore to junior year, Bone took a small step back as his perimeter shooting percentage went from 38% 2 attempts per game in 2017-18 to 36% on 3.8 attempts per game in 2018-19. While that slight decline might be worrying, it was likely due to a significant increase in perimeter shots per game.
When you first watch the young guard play, his potential as a shooter becomes clear as Bone is comfortable launching up perimeter shots whether working off the dribble or catch and shoot. With that first trait, the young guard has a supremely slick step-back move that he loves to utilize due to it making the defender off balanced, which gives him open looks. Despite being Tennessee’s lead guard, he did a lot of work off-ball which ultimately led him becoming comfortable as a catch-and-shoot threat.
While the 6’3, 176 pound guard may need to put on a little more weight as he transitions to the pro level, Bone already stands as a pretty well-rounded player. From an offensive perspective, he’s a really smart facilitator that can use his quick first step to drive to the rim or create separation to hit mid-range or perimeter shots. Although that perimeter efficiency should improve, the 21-year-old guard seems to be comfortable with launching long-range shots through off the dribble or catch-and-shoot. If you combine those traits with his hard work on the defensive end, it should become instantly that Tennessee alum stands out as a really solid player, especially considering his status as a late 2nd round pick.
As we transition into the 2019-20 season, Pistons two-way prospect Jordan Bone definitely stands as a rookie that you should keep an eye on, whether he’s playing in Detroit or in the G League with the Grand Rapids Drive.