Miami Heat: Derrick Jones Jr. season grade and recap

Derrick Jones Jr. #5 of the Miami Heat dunks the ball against the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Derrick Jones Jr. #5 of the Miami Heat dunks the ball against the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Derrick Jones Jr. had a huge summer with the Miami Heat, earning himself a new contract (a call-up from his two-way deal) and playing extremely well in Summer League. How well did this translate to his NBA season with the Heat?

Derrick Jones Jr. had by far his strongest season in the NBA so far for the Miami Heat. While next season will mark Jones’ fourth, the forward will still only be 22 years old.

Jones finished the season averaging seven points per game, to go along with four rebounds and only .7 turnovers per game. He also showed glimpses of a 3-point stroke in his arsenal, as he shot nearly 31 percent from deep, which he was not capable of before.

He played a mere 19.2 minutes per game this season, a slight bump up from his 15.1 minutes per game last season, when he was on a two-way contract with the Miami Heat. Because of this, his per-36 numbers tell a better story. By that measurement, Jones averaged 13.2 points, 7.5 rebounds (with three offensive boards per game), 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.

Widely known for his electric dunks, Jones was originally invited to participate in the NBA slam dunk contest of All-Star Weekend for the second time in his career, but was unfortunately sidelined due to injury. Jones was replaced by Hamidou Diallo of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who went on to win the contest.

However, dunks are not the only thing the forward is capable of, as he played strong defense for the entire season, though with a few slip ups here and there. Jones had the third highest defensive rating on the Heat for players earning consistent minutes. The young forward was also tied for the third highest net rating on the team, tied with Kelly Olynyk, and behind Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo.

Remarkably, despite being a three-year NBA veteran, Jones is the second-youngest player on the team at 22 years old. This makes him younger than all three Heat rookies last season, Yante Maten, Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson. He is also just slightly older than Bam Adebayo, who came into the league a whole year after Jones. This also makes him younger than NBA draft prospects for this season, like Brandon Clarke.

With his youth comes a few discrepancies in his game, most notably his decision-making and free-throw shooting. His defense can be extremely stellar, but it often gets Jones into foul trouble. For his career, Jones averages 3.9 fouls per 36 minutes per game.

Jones mostly played the four spot for a team that was without James Johnson to begin the season, and even started the first few games for the squad, ending with 14 total starts.

While his future is likely at the wing position, Jones showed that he can also play big when called upon, making his skillset useful for the Heat’s current players. Jones snuck himself into the young core of the Heat this season, and showed that he could be a valuable role player on a contender.

As for his athleticism, he ought to look no further than NBA champion Pascal Siakam. While Bam Adebayo plays more like Siakam than does Jones, Jones could stand to gain a few pounds of muscle before the season in order to bully opponents in the paint similarly to Siakam.

The athletic forward has even gotten invitation from former NBA champion Kenny “The Jet” Smith, who told Jones that he would train him to become the best player in the NBA. While this is a long ways to go for Jones, he can certainly tap into his seemingly unlimited potential heading into his first secure summer in his career.

His growth will be one to watch for Miami Heat fans, as he may end up being younger than some of the rookies the Heat can end up with in the offseason.

Next. Appraising the trade value of the Heat roster. dark

Overall, Jones’ decision-making led to both inefficiencies on both offense and defense that would mark him as average, but the overall strength, athleticism and overall jaw-dropping electric plays make Jones no worse than a B on either defense or offense. I would give Jones a B+ on defense and a B- on offense, which evens out to a B overall.

Final Grade- B

(If potential factored into the grade, it would be a lot higher.)