Kai Jones says he’d ‘100 percent’ beat LeBron James and ‘cook’ prime Shaquille O’Neal in 1-on-1’s

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read

Charlotte Hornets big man Kai Jones recently let social media know that he would beat prime Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James in games of one-on-one.

Jones, 22, was selected with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft after two seasons playing college basketball for the University of Texas. His freshman season with the Longhorns was forgettable, though. He averaged 3.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game in 27 appearances with the team during the 2019-20 season (10 starts).

It wasn’t until Jones’ sophomore season with the Longhorns that he established himself as a legitimate NBA prospect. He averaged 8.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 0.9 blocks in 26 games played for Texas during the 2020-21 season (four starts).

Those numbers were good enough for Jones to win the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year award.

Jones’ contributions as a sophomore translated into a lot of success for the Longhorns. They finished the 2020-21 season with an impressive 19-8 record and made the NCAA Tournament. The Longhorns lost to Abilene Christian University in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by a final score of 53-52, though. Jones finished with 11 points and three blocked shots in the loss.

The 6-foot-11 big man has played two seasons in the NBA, both as a member of the Hornets franchise. He averaged 3.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game across 46 games played with Charlotte during the 2022-23 regular season (zero starts). Additionally, Jones shot the ball with impressive accuracy from the field, as he converted 55.8 percent of his field-goal attempts.

Jones didn’t get enough playing time to be a major contributor for the Hornets a season ago, however. He averaged just 12.0 minutes per game and was never a fixture in the team’s rotation.

In all likelihood, Jones was just trolling fans when he said that he could beat James and prime O’Neal in games of one-on-one. After all, James and O’Neal are widely considered to be two of the best players ever to play the game of basketball, while Jones hasn’t been more than a fringe rotation player since joining the NBA two seasons ago.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.