So, pretty much all the talk about this team since the deal for Howard took place has been how the Rockets were going to swing Asik for a starting PF with range. It was clear after watching the Howard/Asik duo fail as a front court that PF was the biggest hole on this team, and it seemed inevitable that Asik would be dealt once Morey could find a suitable PF to swing him for.
However, fast forward a few games and insert Terrence Jones into the lineup and something miraculous is happening: Houston is winning games and playing superior basketball.
Jones is now coming off his fifth start with the Rockets, and his numbers over those five games have been pretty impressive. He's averaging 12.2 points, 10 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 1.2 assists in only 32.4 minutes per game while shooting 53.2% from the floor, 57.1% beyond the arc and 58.3% from the free throw line (which obviously needs to improve). For the season, his 18.0 PER, 58.5% TS%, 15.9 TRB% and .174 WS/48 are all well above average for a starting PF in this league.
Last night, he had a career game against Boston with 24 points on 10-12 shooting, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks in only 27 minutes. He did a little bit of everything and was an absolute monster scoring the paint.
Now I'm well aware that this is a small sample size, and it's far too soon to assume that these numbers are going to continue. He certainly isn't going to put up 24/9 every night, and he's not going to shoot 57% on 3-pointers all season long. But I see no reason to believe he can't average 10/10/2 over the course of the season with solid efficiency as long as he keeps getting minutes. He's a solid jump shooter with 3-point range, he's extremely athletic and a great player to have in transition, has a phenomenal handle for a player his size, defends as well as almost any PF in the league and his defense looks drastically better than last season.
And even better, the Rockets' offense overall has looked a lot better since Jones came into the lineup. They're 4-1 in those games, haven't scored fewer than 109 points and shot better than 36% from the 3-point line three times, including 42.9% in back-to-back games.
So, am I crazy, or is this guy the answer for this team moving forward? He's only 21, his contract is totally reasonable and the Rockets can lock him down for less than $2.5 million through the 2015-16 season. Hell, I think this could even work out better than a trade for Anderson, Millsap or Thad, because he costs a fraction of their contracts and doesn't require the Rockets to deal a single valuable asset.