Derrick Jones Jr. is quietly making a legit case to earn prestigious honor for Mavs

Golden State Warriors v Dallas Mavericks
Golden State Warriors v Dallas Mavericks / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

On Sunday, the Dallas Mavericks took on the Houston Rockets for a chance to make it two wins in a row after defeating the Golden State Warriors 108-106 without superstar Luka Doncic. In a back-and-forth affair, the Mavericks would finally pull the game out after an overtime thriller over the Rockets.

Doncic and Kyrie Irving would combine for 85 points in the winning effort and constantly make tough shot after tough shot. Irving's 48 points officially mark a Mavs career-high, and it couldn't have come at a more important time as the Mavericks are now two games ahead of the Phoenix Suns for the fifth spot in the Western Conference.

Despite combining for 85 points, the biggest performance of the night may have come from Dante Exum. Exum hit the game-tying 3-pointer to send the game into overtime.

While Irving has stepped up in big times for the Mavericks, he has also stood out as a vocal leader during this stretch. Having a player of Irving's caliber to call the team out and let guys know the situation at hand can become a critical component for Dallas' success come playoff time.

Derrick Jones Jr. is quietly making a legit case to make an All-NBA Defensive Team

Over their last sixteen games, the Mavericks have ground out a record of 14-2, and it could be due to a starting lineup change at the beginning of March. One player who has gone over the radar but has made a huge impact for Dallas has been Derrick Jones Jr.

Jones Jr.'s impact on the Mavericks has been an immediate jolt to the team's defense despite not putting up the best offensive numbers on a nightly basis.

Now that the NBA's regular season is winding down, fans have naturally begun to talk about awards for individual players, and Jones Jr.'s case to make an All-NBA Defensive Team could be a legit discussion to be had.

Since being slotted into the starting lineup on March 7, the Mavericks have ranked within the top five of defensive rating through that stretch. Over the last 15 games, Dallas has tied the Boston Celtics for first in the NBA in defense rating with 106.0

While on the court, Jones Jr.'s impact can be felt in a major way as his off/on numbers are off the charts. When Jones Jr. is on the floor, Dallas averages a 97.4 defensive rating, and when sitting on the bench, the Mavericks are over ten points worse with a 107.8 defensive rating.

Jones Jr.'s ability to full-court press combined with his length and athleticism make him aa versatile defender who can guard multiple positions. Jones Jr.'s defense on Stephen Curry over the weekend was outstanding, and his play on that end of the floor shouldn't go unnoticed.

It's clear that Jones Jr. has made a legitimate case for an All-Defensive Team, but it will all come down to how the voters feel at the end of the year. If Derrick Jones Jr. were to make an All-NBA Defensive Team, he would become the first Maverick since Tyson Chandler in 2011 to win such an award. For more updates on Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic, Derrick Jones Jr., and Dallas Mavericks basketball, stay plugged in.