Following a solid season with the Santa Cruz Warriors, one in which the team made it to the NBA Developmental League Championship series, guard Cam Jones was given that illustrious opportunity to try and make an NBA roster with the Orlando Magic.
Jones, 25, enjoyed four solid years at Northern Arizona before going un-drafted in 2011. While he could’ve gone overseas, he chose to say in the states and play for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA D-League, before moving to Santa Cruz after one year with the Mad Ants.
In his first year with the Warriors, Jones was named the D-League’s Most Improved Player, an accolade he attributed to his pride on the defensive end as the main reason he took home the award. Jones also has a willingness to “grind it out” on both ends of the floor, and is always very vocal and taking a leadership role while on court.
This week, Jones has showed off all of these facets of his game, and some new ones. After not playing in the team’s first game, a win over the Philadelphia 76ers, Jones scored seven points off the bench in a win against the Houston Rockets. In the team’s third game, a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, Jones arguably looked the best he has all week, finishing with 10 points and three assists.
Following his performance, Jones talked to the media about a multitude of things, including what helped him to look more comfortable while on court. “I think just confidence from getting into the last game before that and making shots and doing the right plays on D,” said Jones. He continued to say, “Once you get an opportunity at stuff like this you’ve got to pretty much be at your best and go full force ahead, which is pretty much what I was doing; just playing with confidence.”
It’s not surprising to see Jones’ confidence shoot up after a solid performance on Monday. Prior to Summer League, I talked to Adam Johnson of Sea Dubs Central about Jones and teammate Seth Curry. Johnson told me this:
“After the trade deadline passed in the D-League and the roster finally settled Cam emerged as a real team leader, providing for a great cohesiveness. He considers himself to be a leader on the floor with his experience and his desire to play at the next level. It’s a responsibility that not all players are willing to accept, but Jones wants to be the guy that his fellow teammates can rely on when they need a lift on the court.”
This really speaks volumes to how far along he is as a leader at the age he’s at, and shouldn’t surprise people as his confidence continues to grow.
While he has a solid all-around game, Jones knows he still has some things to work on, most notably his three-point shooting. Following the game on Tuesday, I asked him about his work with his shot and if he’s been putting in a lot of work and the progression he’s made with that, he had this to say:
“Yeah, definitely. I’ve always been able to shoot the open three’s, it’s the ones that are like swing, swing, the one that are half contested, those are the one’s I want to feel more comfortable with and I’ve been pretty much working on that all summer. I think I’m getting there, I’m almost there, I’ve just got to keep working at it and shooting those three’s.”
It’s just one area of his game, but it’s a very important one and to see that he feels as though he’s making good progress is big for whoever he plays for next season.
The 6-foot-4 guard also talked about how playing with some familiar faces — Seth Curry and Dewayne Dedmon — and said that it has helped. “It helps a lot because I know both their games very well and they know my game pretty well,” said Jones. He finished with this, “Pretty much whenever I’m on the court Seth knows that I’m curling every time off the screen, so he’s looking for me off that. Dewayne knows sometimes when I drive, he knows to slide over because I’m looking to pass it most of the time. It’s the chemistry we had in Santa Cruz really shows on the court sometimes.”
With the Magic currently having two open roster spots, and one almost assuredly going to another point guard, Jones is facing an uphill battle to make the roster. However, his progression is showing, and his intangibles on and off the court are very important and something that could earn him an invite to camp, with the possibility of grabbing one of those ever-so-important roster spots.