After two years with the Mavericks where he essentially warmed the bench, Dominique Jones enters his third year knowing that his job, and his spot in the NBA, is on the line.
Jones, the No. 25 overall pick out of South Florida in 2010, has never been able to carve out a spot for himself in the Dallas rotation.
Part of the problem came from playing behind so many entrenched veterans in the Mavericks back-court, but it isn't like Jones was wildly productive in his time on the floor either.
At 6'5 215, he's an average sized shooting guard, but he lacks the top-flight athleticism to be a plus scorer or defender. He's a fairly decent distributor, and in many ways he is an over sized combo guard, but his lack of a perimeter jumper means that defenders can play off him and negate his slashing ability.
This unappetizing combination of skills explains his poor statistical production in his first two seasons, with career averages of 2.5 points, 1.4 assist and 1.1 rebounds on 36% shooting.
With Jason Kidd and Jason Terry gone, there are minutes available in the Dallas rotation, but if Jones can't grab them this year, he will likely be plying his trade overseas in 2013.
He's coming off a dominant campaign in the Las Vegas Summer League, where he averaged 16.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5 assists on 46% shooting, but the most encouraging sign is his steadily improving jumper, according to a quote from Mavericks assistant coach Monte Mathis (courtesy of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram):
"Even prior to summer league he really put in a lot of time on his jump shot, and he's actually shooting the ball really well right now," said Mathis, who coached the summer league squad. "We know he can get to the rim, but he's knocking down 3's now. And if he can do that, if you can get the defense just respecting you a little bit on your shots, now he can go to his strengths, which is getting in the paint."
Jones is 1-12 from three-point range in his short NBA career, a testament to his shaky jumper as well as sporadic minutes in Dallas. That number will be worth watching in the pre-season, as Jones fights for a chance to keep his NBA dreams alive.