Dahntay Jones was acquired in a trade deadline that while disappointing most onlookers (expecting a bigger Josh Smith deal) made sense at the time. The Hawks gave up Anthony Morrow who in spite of his reputation as a shooter hadn’t found a place in Larry Drew’s rotation. Morrow had only played in about half of the Hawks games and averaged a career low 13.3 mpg. Dahntay was the opposite type of 2 guard, known as a defensive stopper and a suspect shooter. The logic for such a move became clear right before the deadline the Hawks hosted the Miami Heat. The Hawks enjoyed a 10 point lead at the end of the 3rd quarter, but lost by 13. The big swing wasn’t any of the so called big three for Miami, it was a 3 point barrage by Shane Battier and Ray Allen. Watching that game it was hard not to conclude that the Hawks needed more perimeter defense. The Hawks had a veteran defensive stopper at SG in DeShawn Stevenson, but bad knees limited how much he could contribute. Jones seemed like a natural fit.
It’s often hard to quantify the effect of a defensive specialist, but I look no further than minutes per game to conclude that Dahntay’s stint with the Hawks didn’t go as well as hoped. Dahntay essentially got Anthony Morrow’s minutes (and that was with the skewing effect of 3 late season games that the starters had off). With DeShawn’s knees and the other injuries that befell the Hawks you expect a bigger role. I think 2 things conspired to limit Dahntay’s impact. First of all, he’s 32 making him the oldest of the Hawks and at the age that SGs often lose a step. Secondly and probably most important is that Dahntay is an abysmal shooter. His eFG% of 40.9% was the worst on the roster. Players like DeShawn and Anthony Tolliver shoot a lower actual percentage from the field but their performance from deep allows them to leap frog Dahntay in eFG% as he’s even worse from deep (25%). Bottom line is when you shoot that bad you create an advantage for the opposing defense because they can help off you with little fear. That keeps you on the bench more often than not.
This one was easy. In his 11th game of inconsistent minutes as a Hawk Dahntay Jones had the audacity to play defense against Kobe Bryant as he attempted a desperation jumper to tie the game. Kobe missed, awkwardly tried to force contact, turned his ankle, and then called out Dahntay as dirty in post-game comments. The incident kicked off a several day discussion on whether it was a dirty play and whether they do enough to protect shooters, but it also solidified Dahntay’s adoption by the Hawks fan base. Evidently nothing fires up Hawks fans like an entitled superstar calling out one of our players.
Dahntay Jones is at that point in his career where he’s only going to get league minimum. It’s hard to project who gets those jobs filling out the bench with minimum salaries, but I think it is a long shot that Dahntay is brought back. On the positive side he’s a no nonsense hard-nosed veteran. On the negative side he never developed a jumper. In this day and age a defensive specialist still needs to be able to hit from at least one spot on the floor to make straying defenders pay. This is especially true if you’re in your thirties and may have lost a step. You can sign younger, faster defenders who may develop a shot and that’s likely what the Hawks will do.