Player Analysis: Dahntay Jones
June 13, 2012
When you look at Dahntay Jones, you don't immediately think of Bruce Bowen.
At least I don't.
Yet Bowen could become something of a role model for Jones. A solid defensive player whose role was limited early in his career because he had no place in the offense, Bowen made himself an effective 3-point shooter and thus wound up carving a significant niche as a role-player off the San Antonio bench.
Jones is decidedly more athletic and has substantially more of an offensive game than Bowen—indeed, he is one of the Pacers' most effective one-on-one scorers—but the idea is the same. If he can continue to evolve as a 3-point shooter, it will serve him and his team well.
"Dahntay's got to continue to work on his shooting," Coach Frank Vogel said. "When we talk about guys that improved this year with Paul (George) and Roy (Hibbert), nobody really talks about Dahntay but it's rare to see somebody this late in a career have the type of dramatic improvement in terms of his 3-point shooting. I praised him regularly for that. It's along the lines of Bruce Bowen early in his career being a non-shooter and then really getting to the point that late in his career he was one of the best 3-point shooters in the league, percentage-wise.
"I don't think he had the volume of attempts but Dahntay was in the top 10 in terms of percentage and that adds tremendous value to our team, having him out there with his defensive capabilities and the ability to be a floor-spacer, too. He's got to stay on top of that, continue to get better there, and work on playing mistake-free basketball, whether it means turnovers or fouling too much, just playing a really solid, solid game."
At age 31, in his ninth season, Jones led the Pacers in 3-point percentage with a career-high mark of .429. He also had career highs in attempts (77) and makes (33) from beyond the arc. Jones also established a career high from the free throw line, making 83.8 percent, well above his career mark of .738, so it's clear he has been working on his shooting stroke.
Jones played in all but one game during the regular season, averaging 16.2 minutes, 5.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.0 assist. Those numbers represented a substantial decline from 2010-11, when he averaged career highs of 24.9 minutes and 10.2 points.
The problem for Jones, even with better shooting numbers, is what kind of role he could fill with the Pacers. With Paul George entrenched as the starter at shooting guard and Leandro Barbosa (if the free agent is re-signed) and Lance Stephenson also on the depth chart at that position, opportunities for Jones dwindle.
Out of the rotation in the first round series against Orlando, Jones played in all six games against Miami but shot just 4 of 17 in 24 minutes.
He has the option to forego the final season of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent in July, and Jones must weigh that decision carefully. Though thoroughly at home with the Pacers, he is heading into the final phase of his career and may want to find a team that offers a bigger role.
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