Southwest Notes: H. Jones, Udoka, Rockets, THJ, Fudge

After seeing the way that opposing defenders sagged off of him during his first two NBA seasons, Pelicans forward Herbert Jones was determined to develop a more consistent three-point shot. He has done just that in 2023/24, writes William Guillory of The Athletic.

After knocking down just 33.6% of 2.3 attempts per game from beyond the arc in his first 144 NBA games, Jones has taken a career-high 3.5 three-pointers per game in his third NBA season and made 42.9% of them.

“Above anything else, the guy is a worker. No one could ever question his commitment to the game,” Pelicans head coach Willie Green said. “It’s no shock to us to see him improve as much as he has this season because he’s done what it takes to get those results.”

Jones’ improved three-point shot, which has helped boost his scoring average to a career-best 11.4 points per game, has made the 25-year-old a more well-rounded offensive player, but most of his value still comes on the defensive end of the court. As Rod Walker of details, while Jones isn’t particularly interested in making his own case for All-Defensive recognition, his teammates and coaches are happy to do it for him.

“I don’t know who is first-team All-Defense if it’s not Herb Jones,” Green said. “He’s one of the best in the league. The beauty is the guys he plays against, his peers, they understand that. When you have one of the best guys defensively, he should be rewarded for that.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Rockets head coach Ime Udoka spoke to Kelly Iko of The Athletic about a handful of topics, including his young players, Houston’s offensive inconsistency, and the need to be patient with a young team. Udoka said he “knew what he was signing up for” when he was hired by a franchise that hadn’t won more than 22 games in a season since 2019/20. “We have six first-round picks over the last three years with the task at hand, so I’m not surprised,” he said. “Just continuing to stay positive. We see glimpses and signs of how close we can be. And so you look at it as a positive and you’re optimistic about everything going forward.”
  • Although they’re six games out of the No. 10 seed at 26-34, the Rockets haven’t thrown in the towel on their push for a play-in spot, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). While it’s an extreme long shot, the fact that Houston has the most favorable remaining schedule of any Western Conference team provides a glimmer of hope, Feigen points out.
  • With Tim Hardaway Jr. in the midst of a slump, Tim Cato of The Athletic digs into the Mavericks‘ dilemma with the veteran wing, who has been considered a trade candidate for multiple seasons but continues to play a key role in Dallas. “We trust and need (Hardaway) if we’re going to win a championship,” head coach Jason Kidd told reporters.
  • Alex Fudge‘s two-way contract with the Mavericks is for two years, Hoops Rumors has learned. It will cover 2024/25 as well as the rest of this season.
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