Few defenders have ever come as tough and agile as Bobby Jones. He played a physical, cerebral defensive style predicated on fundamentals and not grabbing, clutching, or cheap-shotting opponents. His results would be nasty for opponents, but at least they had the honor of being shut down by a gentleman like Bobby Jones.
Jones’ regal defense began in the ABA, a league more known for its offensive fireworks than defensive showstoppers. As a member of the Denver Nuggets, Jones was instantly named a member of the All-Defensive 1st Team in his rookie season. In his second season he repeated that accomplishment and with Dan Issel and David Thompson propelled the Nuggets to the ABA’s best record. They also got a Finals showdown with the New York Nets and Julius Erving.
Dr. J was the ABA’s premier player and even the best defenders sometimes become helpless. Erving lit up Jones for the series averaging 37.7 points and the Nets won the title. As fate would have it, the two small forwards would soon team up and form the nucleus of an NBA titan.
With the ABA folding after the 1976 season, Jones tranferred to the NBA with the Nuggets, but was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in 1978. The Sixers had already pilfered Erving from the Nets and thus made the fateful decision to make Jones their sixth man backing up the Doctor.
With no complaints, Jones packed in all of his defensive (and offensive) punch into the truncated time and proved the difference maker numerous times for the Sixers. For you see, just because Jones didn’t start the game didn’t mean he wasn’t on the court in crunch time. Over and over again he’d deliver timely blocks, steals, rebounds, and hustle plays to thwart opponents and save the Sixers.
The NBA recognized Jones for the amazing defender he was with eight straight All-Defensive 1st Team appearances, bringing his career total to 10. All the while his offense was an understated asset. He was never prone to racking up huge scoring games, but what shots he did take he hit. (He also had some hops and could throw down unexpected jams). Three times he led the NBA and ABA in FG% and never shot less than 52% for a season. When it comes to forwards all-time (with a minimum 200 games), Jones is 6th in FG%. And the five guys ahead of him combined have scored just 790 more points than Jones did.
A savvy offensive player. A 10x All-Defensive Team member. The first ever Sixth Man of the Year back in 1983. An NBA champion that same year. Bobby Jones has a lot going for himself and proved that hustle isn’t a substitute for talent, it is indeed a talent all unto itself.
Seasons Played: 1975 – 1986
2x All-Defensive 1st Team (1975-’76)
All-ABA 2nd Team (1976)
All-Rookie 1st Team (1975)
Sixth Man of the Year (1983)
8x All-Defensive 1st Team (1977-’84)
All-Defensive 2nd Team (1985)
4x All-Star (1977-’78, 1981-’82)
ABA - 167 Games
14.9 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 3.8 APG, 2.0 SPG, 2.0 BPG, 59.2% FG, 69.7% FT
2x FG% Leader (1975-’76)
1st All-Time FG%, 11th All-Time Blocks, 16th All-Time Steals
NBA - 654 Games
11.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.3 BPG, 55.0% FG, 78.0% FT
FG% Leader (1978)
14th All-Time FG%