Tyus Jones was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 24th pick in the NBA draft Thursday night, giving him a chance to play alongside another Blue Devil point guard in Kyrie Irving.
But the prospects of an all-Duke backcourt were short-lived. Jones will stay right at home instead.
Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report that the rights to the former Blue Devil point guard will be traded from the Cavaliers to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Jones is the third Duke freshman to be taken in the first round, after Jahlil Okafor was selected third by the Philadelphia 76ers and Justise Winslow went 10th to the Miami Heat.
The trade was later confirmed during the second round of the draft. In return for Jones, Cleveland received two 2015 second-round picks—which turned into Macedonian Cedi Osman and Syracuse's Rakeem Christmas—and a future second-round pick.
The Apple Valley, Minn., native assumed the role of floor general for the Blue Devils as Cook transitioned to more of an off-ball scoring guard. Jones smoothly operated a high-octane offense that averaged 79.3 points per game, displaying a keen feel for the game rarely seen in freshman. He was Duke’s fourth-leading scorer at 11.8 points per contest and posted an assist-to-turnover ratio of slightly less than 3:1.
The 6-foot-2 guard often saved his best performances for when the lights shone brightest, with a stream of clutch moments that earned him the nickname “Tyus Stones”. Jones helped key the Blue Devils’ second-half run in the national championship game to pull away from Wisconsin, and endeared himself to the Cameron Crazies with a pair of sterling efforts against the rival Tar Heels. He also came through with big scoring barrages to spur big victories against Virginia, Louisville, Michigan State, Connecticut and St. John’s.
Jones was invited to attend the draft in person, but opted to watch from home instead. He won't have to travel far to his introductory press conference in Minneapolis.
Despite his track record of success in Durham, critics pointed to Jones’ small stature, spotty defense and lack of dynamic athleticism as flaws that would hurt him in the NBA, causing his draft stock to fall much lower than classmates Okafor and Winslow.
Jones would join a young nucleus in Minnesota that includes point guard Ricky Rubio and the three most recent No. 1 picks—Anthony Bennett, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
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