The point guard star for the Timberwolves in their 101-92 victory over Dallas on Monday was Ricky Rubio. He delivered 13 points, 15 assists and five steals in the kind of vintage Rubio game we’ve been waiting to see more often this season. Primary backup Kris Dunn was fine, too, in his 18 minutes.
But the conversation can’t end there.
After playing in just one of the Wolves’ previous six games (and getting just 4 seconds of game action in that one), second-year guard Tyus Jones was called upon with Zach LaVine hobbled.
As he has done in many other situations this season, the former Apple Valley star and national champion at Duke delivered. In just 11 minutes — the final 11 of the game — Jones went 3-for-3 from the field, including a big three-pointer that helped the Wolves close out the Mavs.
“You may not see him play all the time in the games, but when he comes in you always know he’s ready to go,” Karl-Anthony Towns said afterwards of Jones. “That’s what makes him a true professional.”
Said Jones: “That’s what they say. Just stay ready.”
Those types of players are invaluable, particularly if the Wolves start winning more often. But it also raises the question of whether Jones deserves even more opportunities.
He had a lot of run early in the year when Rubio was injured. With Rubio and Dunn healthy, it’s been a numbers game and Jones has often been the odd man out.
Still, for the season — even in limited action — he’s shooting 44 percent from three-point range and has more than three assists for every turnover.
More telling: the Wolves’ net rating is 9 points better when he’s on the court vs. when Jones is off the court. They’re better on offense and defense when Tyus has been on the floor.
That’s a limited sample size, and when Rubio plays like he did Monday while Dunn has more star potential as a high-investment lottery pick it’s hard to demand that Jones play more often.
At the very least, he’s carving out a niche as a true pro. Maybe he’ll get a bigger chance at some point to show he can be even more.