At this time last year, Derrick Jones Jr. was fighting just to make a spot on the Phoenix Suns roster. Fast-forward to now and he is being crowned the Most Improved Player through the offseason.
“He looks like the most improved player on the team right now,” Eric Bledsoe said. “His jumper looks pretty good. This past week he’s been working. He’s impressed me a lot.”
Jones is primarily known for his high-flying dunks and athletic ability, but after working all offseason on his three-point shot, he has now become a threat from deep.
“If he can hit that three, he’ll play a lot in the NBA,” Jared Dudley said. “They’re giving him freedom to shoot and I think this summer, confidence building has been huge for him.”
Dudley also pointed out that Jones had hit 11 of 14 threes during scrimmages this week.
“Athletically, he’s always been gifted,” Head Coach Earl Watson said. “He’s still athletically gifted above the rim. I feel like he got stronger. The three-point shooting has been phenomenal.”
Jones prides himself in his defensive ability and has high expectations for himself as his career unfolds.
“I know I’m an elite defender,” Jones said. “One day, I hope to be Defensive Player of the Year. One day that’s going to happen, but until then I’ll be the best defender I can be.”
The improvements to Jones’ game has been evident and a topic of discussion between his teammates and coaches, including Watson, who referred to Jones as the most consistent and most improved player on the team.
“It feels great just to know that the coaching staff and the management have trust in me and believe in me,” Jones said.
Suns fans will have an opportunity to get a sneak peek of what Jones has in store for the 2017-18 season during the Open Scrimmage on Friday at the Prescott Valley Event Center with Fan Fest beginning at 3:00 p.m, doors opening at 5:00 p.m. and tip-off at 6:30 p.m.
“I just can’t wait for that first game,” Jones said. “My name being called and getting into the game, it’s going to be fun.”