Derrick Jones Jr. is an underappreciated gem for the Bulls

Derrick Jones Jr., Chicago Bulls (Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports)
Derrick Jones Jr., Chicago Bulls (Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports) /

Although the Chicago Bulls‘ 2022-23 season has consisted of a struggle between the highs and lows, there have been some bright spots on the team. Among the less talked about positives has been the play of Derrick Jones Jr., who has shown tremendous versatility as injuries have plagued the Bulls.

Going into the season, Jones was not expected to have a significant role on the team and was re-signed to a paltry 2-year, $6.6 million contract in July 2022. However, with an injury to Javonte Green and diminishing minutes for Andre Drummond, DJJ has seen much more time on the court.

Jones has been using this extra playing time to his advantage, becoming a key piece off the bench for Chicago. Before arriving with the Bulls, DJJ was known as one of the top dunkers in the league, winning the Slam Dunk Contest in 2020 on this dunk:

This athleticism had not been properly honed, until Jones came to the Bulls. Billy Donovan began to move away from his natural position at small forward in favor of a big man role, mostly at the power forward and sometimes even as a small ball center. Jones Jr. quickly demonstrated that his pick-and-roll game is highly effective, and this helped him establish his presence and carve out an important role on the offensive end very quickly:

Derrick Jones Jr. is looking like a steal for the Chicago Bulls as he continues to be a spark off the bench.

More recently, DJJ has shown his value to the Bulls with four of his best games coming since December 10. This includes a fantastic showing in Paris against the Pistons, where the 25-year-old recorded four high-flying dunks.

Not only has Jones produced highlight reel plays, but he has been incredibly effective on both sides of the court. Over the last 15 games, Derrick Jones Jr. has scored 7.5 points per game on 62.9/45.5/71.4 shooting splits while averaging 18 minutes per game. He has been incredibly efficient from the field and is chipping in 1.5 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes.

Over the course of the season, Jones has even positioned himself in the 75th percentile in offensive rating among qualified players. This strong play off the bench on the offensive side of the ball has been a spark for the Bulls, who have the 4th least offensive rebounds per game in the NBA.

Jones has also provided strong defensive play, and the stats back it up. Jones is averaging 1.8 blocks per 36 minutes, which is 94th percentile among qualified players. He is also 65th percentile in steals per 36 and defensive rating. He has been able to use his athleticism to contest the shots of big men, as well as block shorter players’ attempts.

DJJ’s knack for blocking shots has been extremely valuable for the Bulls as they continue to look for solid paint protection. With this combination of good offense and defense, Jones has recorded a 4.1 net rating, which ranks in the 79th percentile. The UNLV product has played excellent basketball and has forced the Bulls to give him a larger role in the rotation, as his play speaks for itself.

DJJ is providing highlight-reel plays by rolling to the basket and using his bounce to get offensive boards to make plays happen. The Chicago Bulls are getting excellent production from someone who is getting paid just $3.2 million this year, making this deal look like a steal. If Jones can keep this play up for this upcoming stretch (which has plenty of winnable games), he could help Chicago win some games and get back into the playoff conversation.

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