3 reasons Derrick Jones Jr. is a dark horse starter for the Mavericks

Sep 29, 2023; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Derrick Jones Jr. (55) poses for a photo
Sep 29, 2023; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Derrick Jones Jr. (55) poses for a photo / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
3 of 3

1. Derrick Jones Jr. has impressed early on

Derrick Jones Jr has arguably been one of Dallas' biggest bright spots through three preseason games thus far. He hasn't had any glaring mistakes defensively and has been filling in so many different intricacies of the game that Dallas struggled with last year. Jones Jr. has been a great offensive rebounder so far in his first few preseason games, and hustle and desire to win 50/50 balls hasn't gone unnoticed.

The Mavericks will have the opportunity to run some intriguing actions with Jones Jr. because of how much of a raw athlete he is. In the Mavericks' second preseason game in Abu Dhabi versus Minnesota, they ran a set called "77 Spain Veer STS." The set involved a stagger at the top of the key whilst Jones Jr. rolled weak-side off a back screen by Seth Curry for a lob that was almost converted off a pass from Exum.

The Mavericks don't have too many players on their roster that they could even try running this play for consistently, as Jones Jr.'s leaping ability combined with his ability to contort his body mid-air to make adjustments to try and finish is second to none. He obviously missed the dunk in the clip, but his ability to get involved as a cutter and short-roller within Dallas' half-court offense can't be understated.

Jones Jr. has been everything Mavericks fans could've hoped for in preseason thus far when the team signed him to a one-year deal back in August, but the eighth-year wing will have to continue to expand upon his 33.8 percent (career-high) from three-point range that he shot last season if he wants to be the permanent starter in Dallas this season next to Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, Grant Williams, and Dereck Lively II.

Derrick Jones Jr. may not have the tools to be a serious threat attacking off the dribble like Green or Exum might, but he's far from one-dimensional on offense compared to some of the Mavericks' wings that played last year.

Despite this being his eighth season in the league, Jones Jr. is only 26-years-old and had a career season from beyond the arc last year so he has an opportunity to defy expectations as a dark horse starter in Dallas if he continues to impress.

We'll have you covered with the latest on Derrick Jones Jr. and the rest of the Dallas Mavericks as opening night versus the San Antonio Spurs on October 25 is quickly approaching.