Since his return from a hamstring injury, Jones has played in every game of the road trip in which the Heat put up a 4-2 record. During those games he led the Heat with 11 blocks and 17 offensive rebounds. His plus/minus of plus-30 was also the highest mark among Heat players during that stretch.
Jones only appeared for six minutes during the Heat’s Dec. 7 victory over Phoenix. Since then Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra has relied on Jones much more heavily, with the forward averaging 9.4 points and 9.4 rebounds in 25 minutes over the final five games of the road trip.
“He works at it every day,” Spoelstra said of Jones. “It’s that consistent work behind the scenes where you don’t get that instant gratification. It’s really starting with all these effort, intangible plays.”
Jones’s renaissance might constitute an important turning point for the UNLV grad, who spent his first two pro seasons in and out of the G League. After Jones was waived by the Phoenix Suns, the Heat signed the 6-foot-7 forward in 2018.
When “Airplane Mode” has been on the court, he has been flying over opposing defenses, enabling the Heat to tally a 34.7 percent offensive rebounding percentage. In comparison, the highest total offensive rebounding percentage on the season is held by the Denver Nuggets, who are averaging 31.6.
Meanwhile, Jones has helped anchor the Heat’s defense, which recently has been trotting out a 2-3 zone to stifle opponents. In addition to his explosive blocks, over the past six games Jones also led the Heat with 1.8 steals per game.
The Heat will look for Jones to maintain his high level of play as the Heat begin a homestand against the Houston Rockets on Thursday.