Player Analysis: Dahntay Jones
May 17, 2011
LOOKING BACK: Another of the many examples of players that benefited greatly from the coaching change, Jones was an afterthought under Jim O'Brien but became a key member of the rotation under Frank Vogel. O'Brien was a system coach who required perimeter players to be 3-point threats, so Jones did not fit. Vogel built his approach around the players' strengths and took advantage of Jones' defensive ability as well as his offensive strengths -- the ability to get to the basket either off the dribble or in post-up situations. Jones made just nine appearances in the first 44 games but played in 31 straight under Vogel, averaging 15 minutes and 7.5 points. Out of the rotation in the first two playoff games, Jones was called upon to support Paul George in the defensive assignment against Derrick Rose. After racking up 75 points in the first two games of the series, Rose was limited to 63 (a 21.0 average) on 18-of-57 (.316) shooting in the final three.
LOOKING AHEAD: The most prominent free-agent signing of Larry Bird's tenure as President of Basketball Operations, Jones was brought in to strengthen the perimeter defense and provide some veteran leadership. He has proven a good defender and a better offensive player than advertised. His 10.2 average in 2009-10 was a career-high and he was very productive as a scorer last season in relatively limited minutes. One of the few players in the locker room with significant playoff experience -- he started all 16 games in Denver's run to the Western Conference Finals in 2009 -- Jones has established himself as a solid role-player.
KEY STATS: Jones started 23 of his first 34 games with the Pacers, but just five of the last 130.
CONTRACT STATUS: Signed through 2011-12 with a player option for 2012-13.
OUTLOOK: Something of a vagabond -- two colleges (Rutgers and Duke) and five NBA teams (Boston, Memphis, Sacramento, Denver and Indiana) -- Jones has bounced around from role to role in two seasons with the Pacers. He opened as a starter, then became a top reserve, then headed to the end of the bench before returning to the rotation under Vogel. His role next season could depend upon Bird's offseason moves, one of which could be to bring more scoring to the shooting guard position. With Mike Dunleavy a free agent and Brandon Rush's name frequently mentioned in trade rumors, Jones could emerge once again as a key reserve next season.