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Ranking all of Steph’s teammates: #75 — Damian Jones

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Jones had sky high athleticism that never quite panned out.

Orlando Magic v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

On June 25, 2009, the Golden State Warriors drafted Steph Curry. Ten years and 16 days later, the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets. With that move, Curry moved to second in the NBA for longest tenure with his current team. The only player he sits behind is Udonis Haslem, though that feels like a technicality. At this point, Haslem is essentially an assistant coach for the Miami Heat, having appeared in just 43 games and played fewer than 300 minutes over the last four seasons combined.

During his time in the Bay Area, Curry has had 106 teammates who have appeared in at least one game. Some played in exactly one game, while others played in hundreds. Some never actually played in a game that Curry was active for, while others formed historically great partnerships with him.

And I’m ranking all 106 over the course of a few months.

Players are ranked — and stats are shown — based only on their time as Curry’s teammate. How good/bad they were in other organizations doesn’t matter. How good/bad they were on pre-2009-10 Warriors teams doesn’t matter.

To see all of the rankings thus far, you can click on the “Ranking Steph’s teammates” tag at the top of the article.


#75 — Damian Jones

2019 NBA Finals - Practice and Media Availability Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Games: 49 (T-50th out of 106)
Points per game: 3.6 (81st out of 106)
Rebounds per game: 2.3 (65th out of 106)
Assists per game: 0.6 (T-78th out of 106)

The Warriors picked Damian Jones with the final selection in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft. Expectations were perhaps a little too high for Jones, given the success the team had shown with prior late picks like Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli (and, as they would soon discover, Kevon Looney).

Jones’ athleticism was off the charts. That, mixed with his large frame, made it easy to be optimistic that he would thrive with the guidance of a championship squad.

It didn’t quite happen. With his development coming along slowly, and the Warriors in pursuit of championships and thus not having minutes for unproven players, Jones couldn’t find the court early in his career. In his first two years he appeared in just 25 games, while playing a mere 174 minutes. He didn’t earn the chance to develop in an NBA setting, but he wasn’t done any favors, either. And while he didn’t get many opportunities those first two years, he did get to collect two championship rings.

Then, in 2018-19, he finally got a chance to play more. David West and Zaza Pachulia had retired, and JaVale McGee had moved to the Los Angeles Lakers, leaving the Warriors with a limited number of centers. They filled the void by signing DeMarcus Cousins, but he would enter the year a few months away from recovering from his torn Achilles.

Golden State began the season with essentially just Jones and Looney at the center position, and Steve Kerr liked having a traditional center start the games, so Jones got the nod. After playing in just 25 games his first two years, Jones played in each of the Warriors first 24 games his third year, and started 22 of them. And then an injury cost him nearly the rest of the year. He returned in the Western Conference Finals, and logged just four games and eight minutes in the postseason.

Jones did look much improved in his stint as a starter, though he was still flawed. He had a very limited offensive arsenal, and fouled almost as often as he grabbed rebounds. Still, an improvement in his reads, mixed with his athleticism, allowed him to positively impact the game defensively for the first time in his career, and he had some highlights running the rim and throwing down lobs from Curry and Green.

Fun!

The Warriors traded Jones to the Atlanta Hawks in the summer of 2019, and he’s picked up right where he left off, throwing down lobs from Trae Young while still having a limited toolset.

One thing he always did well, which is remarkable for a young player: He always knew his limitations. I can’t recall ever seeing Jones take a shot that he shouldn’t have taken. He never scored much — he eclipsed double figures just four times with the Dubs — but that was because he stayed in his limits. He finished his Warriors tenure having shot 64.3% from the field, with a true-shooting percentage of 64.5% (including 72.0% in his final year). Those numbers are great.

Hopefully he can continue to build on that in Atlanta.

Poll

What do you think of Damian Jones’ ranking?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    He was better than #75
    (42 votes)
  • 36%
    #75 is just right
    (35 votes)
  • 18%
    He was worse than #75
    (18 votes)
95 votes total Vote Now