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Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Dominique Jones is stone-cold confident

By Jeff Caplan

DALLAS -- Of the 13 players on the Dallas Mavericks roster with guaranteed contracts, five played shooting guard last season either on a full- or part-time basis.

Rookie Dominique Jones plans to make it six, starting today when training camp opens at SMU.

"It's crowded, but I feel like there's 82 games, a lot of minutes out there," Jones said Monday at Mavs Media Day. "I feel like if you're being productive then you have nothing to worry about. We're all on the same team. Then again, we're all competing for playing time. I guess you just go out there and do what you can do and the best play."

(Learn how Jones grew up under his father's wing in a piece from July, click here.)

Although his NBA experience includes only five impressive Summer League games in Las Vegas, Jones believes he will be one of the best. Most of that confidence comes naturally, but at least some comes from the level of belief coach Rick Carlisle and his staff already seem to have in Jones' ability. Jones, 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, has spent the better part of the last month or so working out at the American Airlines Center with Carlisle and assistant coaches Terry Stotts and Dwane Casey.

"He's a different kind of player than we have. He's a bigger, stronger, rugged scoring guard that is great off the dribble. He's got a great first step," Carlisle said. "We don't have that element. Roddy [Beaubois] can get in the paint, J.J. [Barea] can get in the paint when they're at the 2, but they don't have the size and strength that he has. So, that, along with the fact that he's a very good defensive player and is a physical defender, those things put him in a different category and open up the possibility that he could be a factor for us."

Those who have and still could see minutes at shooting guard include Caron Butler, who started there last year upon his arrival in February, Jason Terry, who has become entrenched as the sixth man, Beaubois when he returns from a broken left foot, Barea, who also backs up point guard Jason Kidd, defensive-minded DeShawn Stevenson and the rook.

"There's enough room," Terry said. "As you've seen, in coach Carlisle's system, J-Kidd was the 3 at times; him, me, J.J. You don't know who's going to be out there. That's a good problem to have."

The club's thinking seems to be of the mindset to get Beaubois into the starting lineup at some point, which would push Butler to the less-crowded confines at small forward. That still leaves something of a log jam at the 2, yet Jones, who, in three seasons, helped put South Florida on the Big East Conference map, likes his chances of carving out a spot in the rotation.

"I think they're high, but it's up to me. I have to come in here and show what I can do," Jones said. "Defense and getting in the lane is one thing, but I feel like there's other aspects of my game, like knocking down a jump shot. I've been working on it a lot. It's something I've always been able to do, even in college you see me knocking down jump shots. It's just something I've got to get back used to doing and not being able to play with the ball in my hands 100 percent."

How Carlisle goes about juggling who plays when and where and with whom and for how long will be one of the more intriguing -- and critical -- areas to watch as the season unfolds.

"I'm just basically going out there to play," Jones said. "I'm not going out there to say that I'm going to get in the lane every time or I'm going to do this every time. I'm just going to play my game and I'm pretty sure that I fit in with the Mavs pretty good."