The win came largely in part to the outstanding performance of center Damian Jones, who is filling in for the team’s starting center Richaun Holmes due to his placement into the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Jones recorded just his second career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds on 70% shooting. He also provided crucial defense.
In wait & see mode, but Damian Jones has been both productive and promising— Jackson Lloyd (@JLloyd952) January 3, 2022
Has a chance to stick as a legit backup big
Juice when he moves, occasional finishing flashes pic.twitter.com/RxbWDUwpSp
Jones’ teammate De’Aaron Fox had a lot to say about him after their win over the Heat.
“Dame, the minute’s that he’s gotten, he’s been great for us,” Fox said. “With how athletic he is, being able to guard 1-5. We switch a lot when he’s on the floor … Offensively, defensively, he’s been able to do a lot of things for us like blocking shots, finishing, getting and-1s. Whatever it may be, he’s done a great job with the minutes he’s gotten.”
In a league as competitive as the NBA teams need to be able to adapt to even stand a chance. In the modern NBA, big men need to do a lot more than just sit in the paint and grab rebounds. With Jones being able to guard multiple positions due to his athleticism it gives Sacramento’s front court an edge they have’t had in a long time.
“It’s been great, having the opportunity,” Jones said. “You put the work in, so you’ve just got to go out there and execute. Everything’s coming together now and I’m trying keep it that way. It’s good.”
Jones has been in the NBA for six seasons and played for five teams. He has never been a consistent starter and hasn’t even played more than 55 games in a season. A player like him knows exactly how much work it truly takes be a good NBA player and he is not letting this opportunity pass him by.
“I’m in the gym, putting in work all of the time and hard work pays off most of the time,” Jones said. “We’ll see.”
“Everything is coming together right now and I’m going to try to keep it that way.” -Damian Jones pic.twitter.com/igjStC1kC4— James Ham (@James_HamNBA) January 3, 2022
Interim head coach Alvin Gentry also had high praise for how Jones has been playing.
“I think it’s great because he’s the ultimate professional, guys,” Gentry said. “You can sit him there and not play him 10 games or 12 games and it doesn’t matter, but when you put him in the game, I guarantee you he’ll be ready to go. That’s not to say that he’s going to play great or play good every night, but the one thing that you do know is that you gonna get every single thing you possibly can from him to try to help you win.
Damian Jones has never let his role on any of his teams discourage him. He waited for his opportunity and is making the absolute most of it.
Having depth at center is not something most teams in the league have. If his level of play continues, even after Holmes returns to the lineup, Jones will play a major role for the Kings.
“I’m happy for him and, you know, it’s not anything that’s been gifted to him,” Gentry said. “It’s been minutes that he’s actually earned, so that’s why we put him out there and that’s why we play him.”
Like Jones, the Kings have never been a team that has been given handouts or an easy ride. He is gritty and full of heart. Everything this Kings team needs.