Ex-Heat Fave Sends Strong Message on the Udonis Haslem Effect

Derrick Jones Jr. had his moments over parts of three seasons with the Miami Heat; his Slam Dunk Contest win in 2020 rates highly. He had another big moment on Monday night for his current team, the Chicago Bulls, coming up with a game-saving block against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Not only that — the turn-back came in overtime No. 2 on former league MVP James Harden of all people.

Such a play would make anyone’s highlight reel, to be sure (and doubly so when their teams are battling to stay in the postseason mix). However, given everything Jones has been going through recently — injuries, moving in and out of Billy Donovan’s rotation, et al. — it becomes all the more significant.

Asked after the big win how he’s able to come through at times despite his changing circumstances, Jones gave a big-time shout-out to Heat vet Udonis Haslem for showing him the way.

Bulls’ Derrick Jones Jr Gives Heat’s Udonis Haslem Major Props

Derrick Jones Jr checks in with 26 seconds left in double OT and then gets the clutch block on Harden! pic.twitter.com/3VYb2lPJG3

— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) March 21, 2023

Speaking to NBC Sports Chicago in the immediate aftermath of the Bulls’ 109-105 win, Jones — who notched 10 points, three rebounds and an assist to go with his block — credited Haslem for instilling in him the will and the drive to be prepared at all times.

“When I was a young kid in this league one of my vets, Udonis Haslem, always told me, ‘Stay ready so you ain’t got to get ready.’ So, that’s one thing that I do. I stay ready so I ain’t gotta get ready,” Jones said. “Whenever my number’s called, I’m ready to play. I’m ready to go out there and give it 110%.”

There was no doubt that Jones and his teammates were ready for Harden. Despite playing 47 minutes in the contest, the future Hall of Famer scored just five points on 2-of-14 shooting. Moreover, the Sixers were outscored by double digits when he was on the floor.

For Jones — who played a part beyond the big block in shutting Harden down — it was all about executing Donovan’s defensive strategy.

“The game plan was to keep him right. We know he’s coming lefty — he’s a great facilitator, great finisher with his left hand. He can create a lot of plays for himself and others going off to this left, but we just tried to keep them right and just do whatever it took to make it a tough night for him.”

Heat’s Jimmy Butler Projected for All-NBA Spot

He may not have gotten the call for February’s NBA All-Star Game — or he did and opted out, as he’s wont to do — but one analyst believes that Heat star Jimmy Butler deserves a spot on the All-NBA Second Team.

Wrote Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes in his All-NBA predictions:

The catch-all metrics could hardly be higher on Butler. He’s third in EPM behind only Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, and he sits at No. 8 in RAPTOR. The Heat have performed below expectations on offense this season, but that has little to do with Butler, who improves the team’s attack by 7.8 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor.

Conspicuous by his absence was Bam Adebayo; the Heat player who did make the All-Star cut. Ultimately, Hughes selected LA Lakers pivot Anthony Davis over Adebayo and Sacramento Kings star Domantas Sabonis for a Third Team spot.

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