Before training camp tipped off for the Chicago Bulls, it appeared as though the starting spot next to DeMar Derozan in the team’s frontcourt was earmarked for Patrick Williams. That reality changed in an instant, though, when Billy Donovan opted to start Javonte Green in the club’s second preseason game. Then, in game No. 3, it was Derrick Jones Jr. who got the opportunity.
As the exhibition slate wore on, though, it became clear that it was a two-man race, with Jones being the odd man out. And once the season began, the 25-year-old was seemingly out of the rotation entirely, logging consecutive DNP-CDs. He didn’t let it get him down, however.
“I’ve been through this many times throughout my career,” Jones said of not getting minutes to start the season, via NBC Sports Chicago. “It’s not the first time. I’m good.”
Given what he was able to accomplish when he finally hit the hardwood in Chicago’s last two contests, “good” probably doesn’t go far enough in describing his current state.
At the least, Jones’ patience looks to have paid off.
Jones Makes His Presence Known
The journeyman made his season debut on Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, a game that the Bulls ended up losing in spectacular fashion. That result notwithstanding, he made the most of his opportunity by scoring eight points on 2-of-3 shooting and adding two steals and a block in 17 minutes of play.
Jones made an even bigger splash 48 hours later, scoring 10 points in just under 15 minutes of action and helping Chicago hold the Boston Celtics to 15 points in the second quarter with his switchability and energy on D. And the Bulls went on to win by 18 points.
Despite that, Jones deflected the individual credit when discussing the team’s lockdown effort against the Beantowners.
“It’s always great being out there with the guys. I love being here and I love playing with them,” Jones said. “Every moment I’m on the floor I cherish it. I’m just glad to be out there…
“We just started playing a lot more physical, getting our hands on balls, getting a lot of deflections, and just trying to be disruptive on defense.”
Coach Donovan Raves About Jones’ Recent Play
Jones may not have been interested in tooting his own horn after his latest performance, but Donovan had no qualms about giving the baller his flowers.
“Total pro,” Donovan said of the forward. “He goes through the first two games, doesn’t get in. Played really, really well against Cleveland, and we wanted to come back to him and give him another opportunity, and I thought he played really, really well…”
The Bulls play-caller further opined that Jones has benefited from the presence of a longtime teammate.
“I think one thing that helps him is that he and Goran [Dragic] have a great connection from their time in Miami.”
In the 23 minutes that Jones and Dragic have shared the court this season, Chicago has outscored its opponents by six points per 100 possessions. The club’s defensive rating in those minutes is an impressive 91.8.