One thing has become clear this far into the season: Derrick Jones Jr. is fitting in with the Portland Trail Blazers just fine. According to Spencer Davies of BasketballNews.com, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic have gone out of their way to help him as he grows in Portland.
“They’re gonna make sure that I’m good,” Jones said. “While we’re on the court, we need play as one so it’s like whatever is holding us back, then we need to fix it. And if it’s me not knowing the plays, I sit down and break down every play with my coaches or my teammates if I have to.”
Asked about the injuries to his teammates, Jones Jr. stated that nothing seems to get them down.
“Those guys goin’ down, it didn’t [get] nobody down or anything,” Jones said. “Those guys have great spirits. We talk to ‘em every day. CJ, he’s here, so we get to talk to CJ every day. Those guys are wholesome people and they have great hearts. So it’s like, if they not down, none of us should be down for ‘em. They can’t wait to get back and we can’t wait for ‘em to get back.”
Jones Jr. recognized that he is one part of a larger team with a diverse skillset.
“It’s different. When you’re on the outside looking in, it’s like you’re watching the show. But when you’re there and you’re playing alongside it, it’s actually you witnessing greatness,” Jones said. “[Lillard], that man’s different. Him and CJ and Nurk is different. Gary Trent coming off the bench is different. Rodney Hood, [too]. We have so much offensive power that other people aren’t relied on to score as much, but if you disrespect their game, then it’s different. Like, we have weapons all around the board.”
Asked about his work alongside Robert Covington on defense, Jones Jr. said that they hope to elevate the Trail Blazers.
“I mean, that’s what we brought here with us,” Jones said of their defensive nature. “I hope we do make a difference, but this team, they were great — both offensively and defensively. They won a lot of games and made it to the playoffs. You can’t win games and make it to the playoffs just off of offense. Those guys before we got here were great... I feel like we help the team defensively a whole bunch.”
Jones Jr. noted that he wants to stay active on defense, especially in regard to blocks.
“For me, if you not gonna dunk the ball, if you wanna go lay it up, then why would I not contest it? I’m gonna contest it regardless, but if you gonna go up and not tryna force me not to get in your way to stop you from laying the ball up, then it’s going the other way,” Jones said.
Jones Jr. is looking forward to continuing to grow with the Trail Blazers since they need him to step up while they are injury depleted.
“If that’s what our team needs, that’s what we’re gonna do,” Jones said. “We’ve always been those type of players that if our number is called, we’re gonna be there and we’re gonna produce. That’s how we are. We’ve got great firepower.
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