The Dallas Mavericks begin play on Wednesday, October 25 against the San Antonio Spurs. Despite the opening contest being just two days away, the starting lineup is still undetermined.
Three starters are locked in: Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and Grant Williams. But, the other wing spot and the center position are up for grabs.
Rookie center Dereck Lively II has seemingly nailed down the starting spot in the middle. He started and performed well in every game this preseason. Lively II averaged 6.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game in the four contests.
Potential Mavericks starter embraces crucial defensive role next to Luka and Kyrie
The wing still seems to be up for grabs. However, it is down to two prospects, Josh Green and Derrick Jones Jr. It's apparent defense is necessary when suiting up next to Doncic and Irving, and Jones Jr. seems up for the task.
While Green is also a good defender, Jones Jr. brings a different type of defensive versatility. Jones Jr. is an inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than Green. Additionally, Jones Jr. has a monstrous 7-foot wingspan, two inches longer than Green's.
The former Bull is also an athletic marvel. He has a 46-inch max vertical and has constantly displayed his elite verticality over the years, even winning the NBA Dunk Contest in 2020.
The uber-athletic wing provides a different dynamic to the starting lineup. He can defend up to three positions and play either forward spot. Jones Jr. is also a playmaker on the less-glamorous end.
Despite never playing more than 25 minutes per game, he averages 0.6 steals and 0.7 blocks per contest. Over a per-minute basis, Jones Jr.'s averages double to 1.2 steals and 1.3 blocks, respectively.
It's great to see Jones Jr. exuding confidence as a wing defender. The Mavs' defense was abysmal last season and the new Maverick looks to be part of the solution in fixing this leaky unit.
Jones Jr.'s quote after practice on Saturday shows that he is fully bought in on his role next to Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. He understands his defensive assignment after being in Dallas for just a short time.
Jones Jr. said he takes pride in guarding the best player on the floor and being the primary defender. Both Luka and Kyrie aren't players known for their defense, and Jones Jr.'s willingness to step in to guard the best player on the floor should work wonders for the Mavericks defense.
We'll have you covered with all the latest news on Derrick Jones Jr., Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and the Dallas Mavericks this season, so stay tuned.