Perry Jones III jumps, doesn't break his knee forever (Ed Zurga/ Getty).
In the lead-up to the draft, Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger has drawn a lot of attention for a back problem that could linger throughout this entire career. It's scared off many teams, and Sullinger has gone from being a very likely lottery pick to not even being invited to attend the draft by the NBA.
However, Sullinger is not the only notable prospect with a potential injury issue. According to a report from Chad Ford of ESPN.com, Baylor forward Perry Jones III could have a long-term knee problem (via EOB):
Multiple league sources say NBA team doctors are concerned about a meniscus issue in the knee of Baylor forward Perry Jones III. While opinions among NBA doctors vary on the ramifications of the issue, some teams believe the knee could pose a problem down the road and at some point require surgery.
Not all teams have the same degree of alarm, but the concerns have caused Jones' stock to slide from the mid- to late-lottery portion of the draft into the late teens and early 20s of the round.
This is a very vague report, especially in comparison to the detailed explanation of how Sullinger's hamstrings interacted with his back. What's interesting here, though, is that the worries about Jones's knee is related to the same issue that's made him a questionable prospect for the past two seasons: namely, that his up-and-down work ethic makes him a boom-bust player. No one denies that Jones is talented — the rap has been that he might not enough to fulfill his potential.
On Monday, Beckley Mason of TrueHoop questioned whether "motor" even exists, using Jones as a case study. As noted by James Herbert at Hardwood Paroxysm, Jones's trainer believes that his supposed motor issues stem from correctable physiological tendencies of putting too much pressure on his knees. In other words, Jones's motor looked weak because of a correctable medical issue, not because he doesn't care enough.
For teams and analysts who like Jones, that information served as a sign that he could improve. On the other hand, the report about his knee seems to suggest that his past technique could have career-long effects. In a way, it's the same situation as the previous one related to motor: several teams' doctors could have very different opinions on how likely Jones is to overcome his potential knee issues.
Any discussion of "motor," whatever that means, is grounded in unknown factors related to a players' makeup and personality. But even if we transpose that discussion to one of Jones's knees, the question is still very difficult to answer. In the end, we're still dealing with uncertain evidence and conclusions that won't be clear until several years from now, at the earliest. Even with more scientific information, the draft, as ever, remains a mystery.
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- Jared Sullinger
- Perry Jones III