Mavericks wing is elevating level of play on both ends at perfect time

Dallas Mavericks, Derrick Jones Jr.
Dallas Mavericks, Derrick Jones Jr. / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks took a commanding 3-2 series lead over the LA Clippers on Wednesday night, as the Mavericks finally had a game in this series where they were able to play close to their ceiling.

Dallas' defense was excellent last night as has been the case for most of this series, but an efficient game from Luka Doncic helped revitalize the prolific fast-paced offense that we saw from the Mavericks throughout various junctures of the regular season.

If the Mavericks can continue to play near this level then they will certainly have a chance at making a deeper playoff run than initially anticipated, but we'll see how sustainable this is as Luka Doncic is still recovering from a knee sprain and illness at the moment.

Derrick Jones Jr. is elevating level of play on both ends at perfect time

One encouraging X-factor that projects to be sustainable for the Mavericks going forward though, is none other than Derrick Jones Jr.

Jones Jr. signed with the Mavericks on a minimum deal last summer, as many analysts and fans assumed he'd be a fringe contributor for the Mavericks or an okay regular season role player at best. However, Jones Jr. has blown past all those expectations, and he's been the epitome of consistency on both ends for the Mavericks so far in this first round of the playoffs.

Jones Jr. has been given the primary defensive assignment of Paul George in this series, and he's handled his responsibility with that matchup as well as one could hope for in this series. Jones Jr. has also been excellent as a weak-side rotator on defense in this series, as Jones Jr. has shown the ability to use his uncanny athleticism and length to recover at the rim when one of Dallas' other defenders gets beat at the point-of-attack.

Jones Jr. was excellent in Game 5 as he finished with three blocks and held George to 4-13 shooting from the field, but what's been even more impressive is Jones Jr.'s offense in this series. Jones Jr. is hitting the three-ball at a respectable rate in these playoffs, as he's made 5-12 3-pointers in this series. While Jones Jr. will likely never be a high-volume 3-point shooter, he's made some crucial open looks for the Mavericks in this series after suffering a bit of a shooting slump toward the end of the regular season.

If Jones Jr. can shoot at least league average from downtown like he's proven he can during these playoffs as well as at the beginning of the regular season for the Mavericks, he could become one of the more high-end role players in the NBA with how well he's playing defensively at the moment. Jones Jr. has ran the floor in transition extremely well all series as well, and he's kept the defense honest by showcasing his ability to attack off of closeouts for some tough finishes.

Jones Jr.'s demeanor and personality blends well with this Mavericks team as well, as the rest of the roster cherishes his fearless style of play on the court. Jones Jr. has elevated himself into an integral piece and an all-defensive caliber player for this Mavericks team after many thought his days in the league were numbered, as the 27-years-old Jones Jr. is in the prime of his career and is proving why he should be a Maverick for seasons to come.

For more on Derrick Jones Jr. and the Dallas Mavericks throughout the 2024 NBA Playoffs, stay tuned as we will have you covered.