by DWAIN PRICE â€” Fort Worth Star-Telegram
DALLAS – For a variety of reasons, this has the makings of being a very big season for Dominique Jones.
During his first two seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, Jones barely showed any of the flashes of brilliance he displayed when he averaged 21.4 points during his final season at South Florida.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound guard has been more miss than hit with the Mavericks.
“I guess I was just “in” the league,” Jones said in describing his first two NBA seasons. “My minutes were limited here and there, but I guess that comes with the territory.”
It’s a territory Jones decided to make work in his favor when he was the quintessential star of the Las Vegas Summer League this past summer. In the five games in Vegas, Jones was second on the team in scoring (16.4), second in rebounds (4.8) and led the Mavs in assists with five per game while shooting 45.5 percent from the floor.
“His whole summer has been very productive, he’s very aggressive with his training, working on his game,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “His shooting has gotten better. I like his attitude that he brings to the game. He’s aggressive and he keeps coming at you.”
Jones, who has split time between point guard and shooting guard, acknowledged that the summer league experience could be fortuitous.
“I felt like I had work to do, things to show the improvements in my game, to show the progressions of my game,” Jones said.
“…. I got to play, I got to hoop, and that’s what I love to do. I got to be in Vegas, and I got to get closer to the coaches and show them different aspects of my game. I think it was a good thing, and I’m glad I did it.”
So, too, are the Mavs, who noticed the urgency in which Jones approached the summer.
“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 assistant coach Monte Mathis, who coached the Mavs’ 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.”
If the summer league and first four days of training camp are an indication, Jones is on the verge of figuring prominently in the Mavs’ scheme.
“Dominique is playing exceptionally well,” point guard Darren Collison said. “He’s probably one of the best players playing in this camp. He’s a guy that’s constantly in the gym. He’s always working hard and it’s paying off.”
Jones said he soaked in as much knowledge as he could over the past two seasons from Jason Kidd and Jason Terry, who are no longer with the Mavericks.
“My thing was just learning as much as I could from J-Kidd and all the other guys, and just learning and getting my mental game up,” Jones said. “Then when I finally get my chance to step on the court, I’d know a little more than the average rookie or one-year or two-year guy. I just need to be ready and go out there and do what I do.”