Is Damian Jones doomed to be a reserve for the center-heavy Kings?
Jones only played 17 games for the Kings in the 2020-21 season, but he averaged 20.1 minutes per game and even started four games. If Jones is going to replicate the success he had in Sacramento last season, here’s what he should (and shouldn’t) look to do.
Best-case: Jones adds the 3-ball to his game and becomes a utility big man for the Kings.
Jones isn’t as polished as the Kings’ two veteran centers Richaun Holmes and Tristan Thompson, nor is he as enticing of a prospect as Marvin Bagley III or Neemias Queta are, so he’ll face an uphill battle for playing time to start training camp. However, if he shows that he can be a viable pick-and-pop threat, then Luke Walton will have a hard time keeping him on the bench.
Jones first showed a willingness to shoot the 3-ball in Sacramento. In fact, five of his 14 total 3-point attempts came during his 17-game stint with the Kings. Of those five attempts, Jones only made one, but if Walton is fine with him shooting them, then Jones should take advantage of that in the preseason.
That’s not to say Jones can’t be valuable for the Kings without a jump shot, or that a respectable jump shot would immediately be his most valuable skill, but the more dynamic that Jones is, the more likely it will be that he gets playing time in the Kings’ crowded front court.
It would also behoove Jones to become a better perimeter defender, but I’d argue it’s more likely his shooting improves than his defense.
Worst-case: Jones gets lost in the Kings’ crowded front court.
If Jones finds himself getting regularly DNP-CD’d, it won’t come as a surprise to anyone. There are a lot of centers on the Kings’ roster and he’s arguably the least exciting. That being said, it would still be a huge letdown if he can’t even crack the rotation because the Kings could have theoretically used his roster spot to get some much-needed help on the wing.