In a Wednesday matinee game against the red-hot Grand Rapids Drive, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants came out as the victors as they won 115-104. This victory helps push the Mad Ants to maintain a 3.5 game lead in the Central division over the Drive, which might be enough of a cushion as both teams only have 5 games left in the season. The leader of that Mad Ants attack was veteran forward DeQuan Jones who had 26 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks on 9-15 from the field, 2-8 from 3 and 6-7 from the FT line.
That great Wednesday morning performance just capped what has been a fantastic 2018 for DeQuan Jones. Since the year change, Jones has put up 21.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1 steals on 54% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc on 4.1 perimeter attempts per game. That overall efficiency has pushed him to maintain an outstanding 64% True Shooting Percentage, which placed him as one of the more efficient starting forwards in the G League during that period of time.
Considering how Jones stood as a player during his rookie season with the Magic or stints with various overseas clubs, its surprising to see that he’s developed into a fantastic solid perimeter shooter. Dating back to his time with Miami, Jones has only had one season where he shot better than 37% from beyond the arc. That was in 2013-14 when he was playing with the Reno Bighorns, where he shot 40% from 3 in 2.1 perimeter attempts per game.
Jones’ improvement as a perimeter weapon has also allowed him to be a better on-ball driver than he’s previously been. Due to opponents having to play up on him to try to prevent him from hitting an open 3, Jones is able to use his quick first step to breeze right past them and get an open path to the basket. Once he’s able to do that, Jones can throw down the type of slams that allowed him to win the 2018 NBA G League Slam Dunk Contest.
His progression as an offensive weapon has helped the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in huge ways. Since the start of 2018, the Mad Ants are 10 points per 100 possessions better when he’s on the court (111.8 points per 100) compared to when sitting on the sidelines (101.5 points per 100). That 10-point differential is the difference between the Mad Ants being the 3rd best G League offense compared to the 4th worst. The huge boost that Jones brings has obviously benefited the Mad Ants as they’ve gone 12-5 during that time span.
As the Mad Ants embark on their final month of the G League season and eventually start to look forward to the playoffs, they have a legitimate case to be the best team in the Eastern Conference. Standing at a 25-15 record, they currently sit 1.5 games behind the Westchester Knicks for the best record in the East. However, the Mad Ants have been a roll as they’ve won five straight games and 8 out of their last 10.
Obviously, Jones has played a significant role behind that success as he’s kept the Mad Ants going strong despite Trey McKinney-Jones and Walter Lemon Jr both getting signed to 10-day deals. Although both players are likely to make their way back to the team, Jones’ role shouldn’t be affected due to how great he’s been over an extended period of time.
If DeQuan Jones has been this great during the majority of the regular season, who knows what he could accomplish once we reach the NBA G League playoffs. Although there’s going to be uncertainty until we see him in playoff action, I think we can already predict that its going to be an entertaining thing to watch.