Jones: ‘With my athleticism, I can have a two-way impact’

CHARLOTTE Hornets centre Kai Jones, of The Bahamas, at the NBA basketball team's media day in Charlotte, N.C., yesterday. 
(AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

CHARLOTTE Hornets centre Kai Jones, of The Bahamas, at the NBA basketball team's media day in Charlotte, N.C., yesterday. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)


Tribune Sports Reporter


THE Charlotte Hornets have a stacked depth chart in the frontcourt headed into the 2022-23 campaign but Kai Jones looks to use his versatility to take advantage of every opportunity in year two.

Jones called his rookie season “a beautiful experience” at Hornets media day but looks forward to making a bigger impact this season.

“With my athleticism, I can have a two-way impact,” he said. “Lob threat, blocking shots, just being versatile.”

New Hornets head coach Steve Clifford called Jones “an exceptional athlete” and “phenomenal worker” when asked about his possible role in the frontcourt.

“Kai [Jones] to me, right now, is more of a centre. He can play some four. Even for our league he’s an exceptional athlete and physical. How quickly he puts himself in a place where he can legitimately play night in and night out in NBA games is just purpose of play,” Clifford said.

“For all young players, especially inside guys, that’s the hardest thing. Playing to your strengths, helping your teammates play to their strengths, so we’ll see.”

The Hornets return veteran centre Mason Plumlee, third year player Nick Richards and rookie Mark Williams all at the five spot.

Jones came into training camp sporting the blue hair he had this summer when he made his debut with The Bahamas’ senior men’s national team.

He said his hairstyle is inspired by several things, including his favourite anime.

“The blue hair is for a lot of reasons, in The Bahamas our water is blue like this, the Charlotte Hornets’ colour is blue and I love anime so Super Saiyan god Goku has blue hair, all of my anime fans out there know what I’m talking about so all of those reasons.”

Jones finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds against Venezuela and followed with 16 points and six rebounds against Argentina in the latest window of FIBA World Cup Americas Qualifiers.

At the NBA level with the Hornets, Jones appeared in 21 NBA games this past season but played sparingly in few moments off the bench.

He excelled at the G-League level on assignment with the Greensboro Swarm averaging 16.5 points on 61.4 percent shooting from the field – 32 percent from 3-point range – 9.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.1 blocks in 32 total G League games. He also posted 15 total double-doubles. The no.19 pick in the 2021 draft, Jones and the other members of the Hornets rookie class played sparingly as the Hornets chased a spot in the NBA playoffs. Jones highlighted his G-League campaign with a career high 30 points with nine rebounds in a 139-119 win over the Long Island Nets at the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina on March 27.


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