Depending on how events transpire next year, Dahntay Jones could be an important Mavs pick-up, or one of its least important. This is because Dahntay Jones is a great defender with a suspect offensive game. Not only have the Mavericks seen this before, they've seen both sides of this--our man DeSteve was a zero one year and a hero the next, entirely predicated on the efficacy of his three-point shot.
Dahntay isn't a complete zero on the offensive end--just two years ago he averaged 10 points a game--and in the last two years, he's added an intriguing wrinkle. The creation, ex nihilo it seems, of a three-point shot. Before two seasons ago, he had never averaged more than .4 threes a game. Two seasons ago, he averaged .9 at a 36% clip, last year 1.2 at a 43% clip. One assumes if he shoots 10 a game, he'd make them at a 60% clip, which would be just fine for the Mavericks.
In all seriousness, it's hard to expect much from Dahntay for a couple of reasons. First, despite being a pro's pro, he's averaged 20 minutes a game twice in his 9 year career, the last time was three seasons ago, and none of his seasons came on a team as talented as the Mavericks are this season. His highest PER ever was 13.75, he never draws fouls and he's a poor rebounder. He is NOT Shawn Marion 2.0--Shawn, remember, was a superstar in Phoenix.
However, if he can break through the Mavericks' crowded backcourt rotation, he'll be far from useless. Though it may sound a back-handed compliment, Dahntay could actually bring to the Mavericks a lot of the non-passing stuff that Jason Kidd brought. I know. Still.
Dahntay Jones is an athletic, 6'6" SG. He likes to dunk, though the years have robbed him of some of all that. He tends to produce when he's out there---his .91 points per play in 2011-2012 belie his poor overall point total- and he likes to score spotting up or on the hand-off. Defensively, he excels in isolation, as his .84 ppp is a notch above Shawn Marion's .86, although Marion, of course, gets the toughest defensive assignment all game. He's not quite as good in the post as Marion, but he's known as the same kind of do-it-all defensive player, and with his size and strength he matches up well with a lot of the players the Mavericks have the most to worry about. If you remember when Caron Butler and Marion were combining to wreck defensive havoc, it could be similar with less offensive gas.
Here's some Dahntay from over the years:
Overall his statistics tell a consistent story: Good enough to keep finding a job, relatively efficient out there, good soldier. Nothing jumps off the page:
|Regular Season Averages|
If, however, Dahntay keeps shooting the three well, then perhaps he, like Jason Kidd could have a second act and perhaps, as I alluded to earlier in the column, he could provide the Mavericks with that three-ball, with that tough defense on the bigger guards, with even some of that veteran leadership that the Mavericks are now missing after Kidd's departure.
Currently, the Mavericks' guard lineup looks like this: Collison, West, Beaubois, Cunningham, Mayo, Jones, Jones, Carter (who plays a lot of SF). Since Jones isn't a passer (1 assist or less in every year but one), that means he'll be competing with Mayo, Jones, Beaubois and Cunningham for playing time at the two--and actually that isn't as grim for his chances as it sounds. We do not expect Rick's quick hook for Roddy to change (even if he does get time at the two, if they stop trying to throw him into the one), we do not expect Rick to get fond of rookies, we do not expect Dom Jones (also a backup one possibility) to play well enough to merit court time. Assuming Delonte is primarily the backup one, and Carter the backup three, Jones could well see some time as the Mavericks' primary back-up two. On the other hand, if any of the young kids make strides, ti will be Jones' job they're taking.
If he sees the court, he will be asked to do a lot more defensively than offensively, and he may be up for that challenge. He's an intriguing piece to have, for sure.