10 Biggest early-season surprises for the Dallas Mavericks

Nov 1, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA;  Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) and Dallas Mavericks
Nov 1, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) and Dallas Mavericks / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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8. Derrick Jones Jr.'s emergence

Derrick Jones Jr. was definitely someone most Mavericks fans expected to at least have a role on the team after he signed with Dallas for the veteran’s minimum this past August.

However, many didn’t anticipate Jones Jr. being in a position to start for Dallas. While the minute distribution between Jones Jr. and Josh Green has fluctuated on a game-to-game basis depending on who’s producing better, Jones Jr. has performed extremely well defensively for Dallas and has gotten hot offensively in a few games.

Jones Jr. may sift between starting and coming off the bench for Dallas, but through seven games he’s certainly proven that he’s worthy of a role on this Mavericks team. Jones Jr. has been a pretty stout one-on-one defender unless he’s had to defend a size up, and he’s been excellent as a help defender, seemingly always coming in for a block or strip in a key situation for Dallas off of an excellent defensive rotation.

Jones Jr. has flashed some knockdown ability from outside, particularly during his two-game outburst against the Grizzlies and his former team the Chicago Bulls. His shot has looked more shaky in the Mavericks’ other contests, but his ability to get offensive rebounds, actively cut, and run in transition have been staples regardless of circumstance.

Jones Jr. has flashed some uncanny athleticism that the Mavericks simply don’t have otherwise and the more he hits from outside, the more integral he could become to this Mavericks roster. Currently, Jones Jr. is averaging just under 21 minutes per game, but he’s shown that he can be a dynamic wing when given the opportunity thus far.

It will be interesting to see what his role is as the season goes on, but he’s shown enough for fans to believe that he could potentially have a breakout season in Dallas.