2. Dud - Derrick Jones Jr.
Arguably the most surprising success story to start the season in Dallas has been that of Derrick Jones Jr. After Jones Jr. signed a minimum contract with Dallas in August, most expected him to have a fringe role off the bench even though there was some underlying noise that he could potentially be a starter.
Jones Jr. has defied all expectations, as he’s benefiting from the spacing provided in the starting lineup from Doncic and Irving en route to possibly the best offensive season of his career. Jones Jr. unfortunately struggled immensely on offense last night though, as he looked unconfident when attacking closeouts and couldn’t see the ball fall through the rim whatsoever.
He posted a 0-8 shooting performance from the field in 19 minutes, but luckily it seemed as if Jones Jr. simply just had a really off game coming off of two days rest. Jones Jr. still clashed the glass really hard as he finished with eight rebounds, and he did a pretty good job at defending Damian Lillard at the point-of-attack when he was matched up with him.
Lillard didn’t get it going too heavily until the fourth quarter, and Jones Jr. didn’t play in the Mavericks closing lineup as head coach Jason Kidd elected to stick with Tim Hardaway Jr. instead because of how he was shooting the ball throughout the game. Jones Jr. did an excellent job at navigating through screens to stay with Lillard when he was in, but when switched onto Giannis Antetokounmpo he suffered the same fate as most other Mavericks defenders last night.
Jones Jr. has proved to be a valuable piece because of his rebounding and defense. His effort has been there on there on the defensive end even in a few games where Jones Jr. had some duds on offense. Jones Jr. has showcased a new level of versatility in Dallas, so we’ll continue to see how far it goes even if there may be some inevitable growing pains offensively sometimes.