Portland Trail Blazers off-season question #4. Will Derrick Jones Jr. opt-in?
One of the more bizarre storylines of the season was how Derrick Jones Jr was signed for the mid-level exception on a two-year deal in the off-season, and then was fully out of the rotation by the end of the season and the playoffs.
Jones Jr is young, and still a bit raw in terms of his skill set, but he still possessed skills very few players on the Blazers roster had. Jones is a great offensive rebounder, shot blocker, finisher at the rim, and is excellent at forcing turnovers.
Down the end of the season, the Blazers played some of their best basketball in the year with him not in the rotation, but it all amounted to nothing in the end as they went out in six games in the first round of the playoffs.
This team seemed like they needed a lob threat to put pressure on the defense and change the type of looks they were getting. Jones also had some great defensive highlights and made plays earlier in the season that won the Blazers some key games.
His three-point shooting wasn’t great, but he hit just a touch over 30 percent of his looks, and it seems like he could improve on this number.
Jones didn’t have a great year, but he was still playable in some lineups, and he can improve the defense. With Carmelo Anthony not likely to have the same role in the 2022 season, I don’t see a reason why he couldn’t get back into the rotation.
Jones Jr’s player option is probably a higher number than he is likely to get on the open market, so I could see him opting in. I think he can add value in a Blazer jersey next season.