Ex-UNLV standout Jones soars into dunk contest
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By Matt Youmans
VSiN senior editor
Derrick Jones Jr. makes his living above the rim. Everyone who watched him at UNLV last season is well aware of it.
He’s an under-the-radar talent to most basketball fans, however. Jones played in 30 games for the Rebels as a freshman and did not appear in the NCAA Tournament. He declared for the NBA and went undrafted. He has played in only seven games as a rookie for the Phoenix Suns.
Jones spent most of this season dunking in obscurity for the Northern Arizona Suns of the NBA Development League.
For the first time Wednesday, the 6-foot-7 forward dunked in a real NBA game, throwing down three in four minutes in the Suns’ 137-101 blowout of the Los Angeles Lakers.
But Jones already had been picked to participate in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday in New Orleans, and the other three contestants will have a tough act to top.
Orlando star Aaron Gordon, last year’s runner up, is the favorite. The Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan and Indiana’s Glenn Robinson III fill out the field.
Las Vegas sports books are not permitted to take wagers on the judged event, but there are dunk contest odds available offshore. Gordon is a minus-175 favorite, with Jones the second choice at plus-175. Jordan and Robinson are each listed at plus-700.
Golden State’s Klay Thompson is the plus-125 favorite in the Three-Point Contest. Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving is the second choice (plus-550) in the eight-player field.