Monday, July 18, 2011
Countdown: Ranking the Mavs -- No. 14
By Jeff Caplan
Welcome back to the Dallas Mavericks roster countdown. Hope everyone had a good weekend. After beginning this endeavor on Thursday, I needed a few days to mull where to go next.
If you're checking this out for the first time, here's what's up: The lockout has the NBA in a deep freeze -- no free-agent signings, no trades, no nothing until a new collective bargaining agreement comes to pass. So I've decided to rank and analyze the 16 players currently on the Mavs' 15-man roster, one-a-day, from least critical to most critical (with likelihood of returning taken into great consideration) to defending the championship.
Once the lockout is lifted and the league resumes regular business, the Mavs' roster will look a bit different. The core is likely to remain intact, but at least one will have to go. And, if Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson are offered the right deal for either a player at a position of need or to take a big contract off their hands (i.e. Brendan Haywood), a trade is always possible.
So, let's continue with today's ranking: No. 14
Dominique Jones is going to have to improve his jumper to increase his value to the Mavericks.
DOMINIQUE JONES Pos: SG
Experience: 1 year
Age: 22 (Oct. 15, 1988)
Contract status: Through 2013-14 (team option)
2010-11 salary: $1.1 million
2011-12 salary: $1.2 million
His story: Jones certainly celebrated winning a championship in his rookie season in style. Days afterward, the youngster got 2011 tattooed around his neck with the first 1, of course, being a replica of the Larry O'Brien trophy. What took Dirk Nowitzki 13 seasons and countless sleepless nights to conquer is now neck art on someone who has played 28 professional games -- 10 with the D-League Texas Legends -- and can't be found on the Mavs' playoff stat sheet because he was never even active (yes, he fractured his foot in the second half of the season, but it had no bearing on his playoff availability). He just wasn't ready to contribute on a team with sufficient depth at shooting guard. Dallas paid the Memphis Grizzlies $3 million in the 2010 draft to move into the first round at No. 25 and take the South Florida slasher. The Mavs also like his ability at point guard, but Jones admits he must develop even the threat of having a jumper (31.1 FG percentage in 18 games, 0-4 on 3s) if he's going to be able to take advantage of his quickness and strength in getting to the basket. The Mavs still hope to develop his talent. Just before the lockout they exercised the contract option, locking up Jones for the next two seasons at about $2.5 million with a team option entering the third year.
His outlook: It's a shame the lockout wiped out the Summer League in Las Vegas and potentially a full summer of work with coaches and teammates in Dallas. Because if Jones thought playing time was scarce last season, well, he might want to find a place in Frisco -- the suburb north of Dallas the Legends call home. The Mavs acquired shooting guard Rudy Fernandez on draft night, and he would seem the top candidate to start in front of sixth man Jason Terry. Rodrigue Beaubois is coming off another foot surgery, but next season is a big one for his development. If DeShawn Stevenson heads elsewhere in free agency as would be expected, it still leaves Jones no better than fourth on the depth chart at shooting guard. Hey, at least he never has to worry about getting that first NBA title -- or the title tattoo.