Derrick Jones Jr. came alive Monday night. The 26-year-old NBA veteran, now in his eighth season, isn’t known as a scorer. Instead, he’s considered a defensive-minded Swiss Army knife with the ability to guard multiple positions. Last night, he bucked that one-dimensional perception.
Against the Memphis Grizzlies, Jones had one of the best scoring performances of his career. He had 22 points, helping the Dallas Mavericks improve their record to 3-0 with a 125-110 victory on the road.
“For me personally, I put a lot of work in behind the scenes,” Jones said after the game. “For this far in my career, I haven’t got the recognition that I think I deserve. I feel like this year is going to be the year. I’m going to shoot the ball whenever I get open shots and drive whenever I get the open lane. Just play simple basketball.”
Jones had plenty of open looks on Monday. He connected on seven of his 10 shots, including four of his six three-point attempts. He showed patience on offense, finding his spots, driving with conviction and leaking out in transition.
“I always tell those guys, ‘If you run, you’re going to get the ball,’” Doncic told reporters after the game. “I threw one that was almost impossible to catch. When they run, I will always try to reward them. It’s a great thing. I think D-Jones played amazing tonight.”
Playing with Doncic, who is always looking for the open man, is something Jones is enjoying so far. Doncic found him with a long outlet pass in transition early in the third quarter for an easy bucket as Jones drew a foul and earned a trip to the free-throw line.
“It’s wonderful. It’s always wonderful to touch the ball. As a basketball player, you don’t want to just be running up and down the floor,” Jones said. “He’s phenomenal. I am 100% so happy that I am here playing with him, and I don’t have to guard that no more.”
Jones’ 22 points were his highest scoring mark in a game since March 11, 2020, when he had 23 points while playing for the Miami Heat in a loss to the Charlotte Hornets. His career-high 25 points came a month before that in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
That looks like a lifetime ago in his NBA journey. He played one season in Portland and two in Chicago since hitting that scoring-high mark. Now in Dallas, playing alongside Doncic, Jones could see a more significant role in the offense, but head coach Jason Kidd still wants him to be a force on the defensive end.
“We’re looking for him to be him,” Kidd said after the game. “He’s a pro. He’s been in the league for a long time. He’s still only 26. Defense is something he enjoys doing. And then, as he’s improved on his game—I don’t think he came in the league as a shooter, but he’s worked on his three, and you can see that tonight.
“There’s going to be nights when he makes them, and there’s going to be nights when he doesn’t, but it’s about his competitiveness on the defensive end that we’re watching. We know what Luka and Ky [can do]. Everyone is going to get open shots. It’s just a matter of being consistent. We all trust that D-Jones is going to do that, and he did that tonight.”