5 Biggest X-factors for Dallas Mavericks ahead of 2024 NBA Playoffs

Golden State Warriors v Dallas Mavericks
Golden State Warriors v Dallas Mavericks / Sam Hodde/GettyImages
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4. Derrick Jones Jr.

The Dallas Mavericks' defense took an incredible jump in the right direction after Jason Kidd elected to put Derrick Jones Jr. in the starting lineup over Josh Green. Dallas has been red hot ever since they made this move, and Jones Jr. is essential to the way they play on both ends.

This season, Jones Jr. is averaging 8.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game while shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from downtown. Jones Jr.'s shooting is extremely streaky, but he always seems to be getting open looks. He will need to make the most of his opportunities in the playoffs, but he makes his biggest impact on the defensive end.

Jones Jr. can effectively guard one through four and his perimeter defense is outstanding. Dallas will likely put him on the other team's best guard and have him chase them around all game long. Jones Jr.'s defense is levels better than Green's, and he has been the best guard defender on the team all season.

Jones Jr. will become an unrestricted free agent after this season and he quickly outplayed the minimum contract that he signed with Dallas over the summer. It will be interesting to see how Jones Jr. performs in the playoffs and he is someone the Mavs will rely heavily upon.