Miami Heat, The Whiteboard

The Whiteboard: Derrick Jones Jr. has potential as big as his wingspan

The Miami Heat weren’t lauded for signing Derrick Jones Jr., but he seems to be ready to develop into an effective contributor on the wing.

Derrick Jones Jr. may not be a household name, or even a name familiar to most NBA fans, but the Miami Heat swingman might end up at that level some day. He’s young and hasn’t accomplished a ton on the NBA level just yet, but Jones Jr. has all the makings of a player who could have a long career.

Jones Jr.’s career did not have a storybook beginning. After the ACT board decided to cancel his score and ruin his freshman season at UNLV (Jones Jr. says he took the test himself and doesn’t understand the decision by ACT), he declared for the 2016 NBA Draft and went undrafted.

In addition to the question mark over his ACT kerfuffle, Jones Jr. didn’t have a certain key skill that was really becoming in vogue in 2016. He shot 20.5 percent from 3-point range in college and made just eight total 3s in 30 games.

Fast forward a few years, and past a stop with the Phoenix Suns, and Jones Jr. is now a productive role player with the Heat who is shooting 35.0 percent from 3-point territory on a career-high 1.4 attempts per game. That’s not a ton in just over 18 minutes per outing, but Jones Jr. is starting to hit triples when he’s open.

That, paired with the rest of his skill-set, has made Jones Jr. an enticing prospect for the Heat. Jones Jr. is a big wing who plays even bigger, as he stands 6-foot-7 but wields a 7-foot wingspan. He’s athletic and bouncy as heck, as evidenced both in the 2017 Dunk Contest and on the floor. That length helps defensively too, as Jones Jr. can block passing lanes and poke balls away that most defenders couldn’t reach.

Jones Jr. has yet to put it all together, which is pretty normal for a 21-year-old wing who hasn’t had much stability in his career to this point. At 7 points per game, it may seem odd to be excited about a third-year player.

Derrick Jones Jr. has shown flashes here and there, and those flashes offer glimpses at a tall, long wing player perfectly suited for the modern NBA. Miami did great in getting him on an affordable contract, especially if he ends up matching his potential to that massive wingspan.

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