6 Biggest X-factors for Dallas Mavericks heading into Finals

Dallas Mavericks, P.J. Washington
Dallas Mavericks, P.J. Washington / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Derrick Jones Jr.

Derrick Jones Jr.'s story with the Dallas Mavericks has been inspiring to all this season, and he enters the last stretch of the season with a chip on his shoulder and more to prove. Jones Jr. chose the Mavs over the Boston Celtics in free agency last summer, and this decision has worked wonders for his player development.

Jones Jr. has become the starting wing next to Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving in Dallas, and his defense and 3-point shooting off the catch have been essential for the Mavs throughout the playoffs. He has forced teams to defend him closely on the perimeter, and if they don't, he makes them pay by knocking down open threes.

Just like P.J. Washington, Jones Jr. is someone who backs down from no one and "fears no man." Jones Jr. isn't afraid to stick up for his teammates, and when his back is against the wall, he always responds. Mavs fans saw Jones Jr. get into multiple altercations with Rudy Gobert during the Western Conference Finals, and he showed no fear even when Gobert was trying to pull some questionable antics.

Jones Jr.'s 2024 NBA Finals could have huge implications on his unrestricted free agency this summer, and he is going to be a coveted free agent for teams who are looking for a 3-and-D wing. It has been reported that Jones Jr. wants to stay in Dallas, and it definitely seems like he wants to, but the number has to be right for both sides.

Jones Jr. is going to have the assignment of defending either Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown, and his effectiveness in these matchups will be pivotal in this series.