- The Miami Heat are one of the more pleasant surprises of the NBA season so far.
- They were expected to be better this season but not a top-four team in the East.
- They owe the turnaround to relatively-unknown players like Derrick Jones Jr – not just Jimmy Butler.
Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. is not a superstar that came into the NBA with a lot of fanfare. He wasn’t a lottery pick; in fact, he went undrafted after leaving UNLV after one season. During his short career, he has floated between the G-League, the Phoenix Suns, and now the Miami Heat.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, on the other hand, is an established star. The 7-foot-1-inch Frenchman is arguably the best defensive player in the league. He has won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award the last two seasons, after all.
Monday night during a game in Miami, these two met on the court. From their backgrounds, it would be a fair assumption to think Gobert would get the better of Jones.
But that was not the case at all.
Derrick Jones Jr. with the Slam!
Jones has only appeared in 15 of Miami’s 30 games this season and is averaging right around 20 minutes a game. But with plays like the one he made over Utah’s Gobert Monday night, there is a good chance he could earn himself a little more playing time in the future:
It was one of only two baskets made by Jones on the night. He played 32 minutes off the bench and recorded eight points and six rebounds in what would end up being a 107-104 win for the Heat.
The victory improved the Heat to 13-1 at home this season and 22-8 overall. It also brought an end to Utah’s five-game winning streak.
What Does This Mean for Jones (If Anything)
Jones is like the silent multitude of athletes that fans often know little of. He makes a good living, of course. But, unlike the big-name draft picks and established stars, he doesn’t have the luxury of being able to have an off-night or a few bad games.
When you don’t come with fanfare, you have to…