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Derrick Jones Jr. is doing it all for the Dallas Mavericks right now

Derrick Jones Jr. has made an impact on defense from the beginning, but his offensive spark has been a positive surprise 

Dallas Mavericks v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Three made threes, three dunks, three blocks and 15 points. That was the statline on Derrick Jones Jr. that Mark Followill, the Dallas Mavericks play-by-play announcer, pulled up at the end of the first half in the game against the Toronto Raptors. Jones Jr. finished the game with 15 points and was a plus 11 - the highest on the team.

Derrick Jones Jr. (DJJ) has announced his arrival in Dallas with a surprisingly consistent offensive game. We all knew he was athletic, but his will to shoot threes and make them at the rate he has been is surprising. He’s averaging 38.7 percent this season, and with his career average being only 30.9 percent, that’s a drastic improvement. He is clearly benefiting from Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving’s ability to set up shooters, but to his credit he is also taking advantage of the opportunity.

But it’s not only from the perimeter that DJJ is thriving on the Dallas Mavericks. It’s been a while since we have seen anyone be able to get up and finish around the rim like DJJ is able to. His athleticism is exciting to watch and helps the Mavericks become more dynamic offensively.

As a Maverick, Derrick Jones Jr. has averaged 8.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 8 games this season and had some exciting plays, like this putback against Lavine and the Chicago Bulls.

His athleticism and ability to get to the rim is something this team has needed, and the way he can finish a fast break and get the American Airlines Center on their feet should never be underestimated.

DJJ has also shown a willingness to put the ball down, and when a player is able to stretch the floor at the same time, it presents a real problem to the defense, which also has to be ready to double either Kyrie Irving or Luka Doncic at any given moment. That’s why his aggressiveness on offense is important to this team. Last year, the passivity of the offense outside of Luka Doncic was a huge problem.

But what makes him even more valuable is his defensive effort on top of that. Often, it’s easy to overlook the defensive-minded players, who do all the small things that won’t be on the statsheet. Watching a player like DJJ is a new experience for Mavs fans, because he has the ability to get up and block a shot from behind or if he’s been beat on the dribble. Here, he gets the block against Orlando Magic Rookie, Anthony Black, despite being multiple steps away.

DJJ is a good perimeter defender, who obviously fits in well within the Mavericks’ defensive system. But what makes him important for the team is his ability to get up and contest the ball in ways the rest of the rotation players, maybe aside from Josh Green and Dereck Lively, are not capable of. Comparing him to Josh Green is another way to show his worth. He doesn’t have the same tendency to overhelp, or to struggle as much to navigate screens as Green does. He seems able to read the defense better, and he possesses the important skill of timing.

Here, against the Charlotte Hornets, he once again manages to block the ball from behind, never giving up on a play.

Back in the preseason, during his media day press conference, DJJ said that he “can be one of the top defenders on the team,” while showcasing the ability to “knock down shots and create different opportunities [by] crashing the glass, cutting into the lane, and going against closeouts.” As of now, he has lived up to that in Dallas, making the start of his tenure here a success.

After the loss against the Toronto Raptors, coach Jason Kidd talked about his importance on both ends for the Mavs:

“He can play with stars. He can play with anybody. He understands how to play the game on both ends.”

The fact that the Mavericks got themselves a high-level defensive player, who is contributing with more than just shooting on offense, is very important. Last year, the Mavericks had Reggie Bullock in that spot, who, when he was best, was a very good defensive player, but who took months before his shots started falling, and who never even thought about putting the ball down.

DJJ is a massive upgrade. He’s the gift that keeps on giving right now, and if the Dallas Mavericks are lucky, he keeps developing that chemistry with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. I wouldn’t be surprised if he averaged double digits later in the season, if the team vibes and connection keep being as high.

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