A month earlier, the Mavs paid the Memphis Grizzlies $3 million for their first-round draft slot, and Jones, the hard-driving combo guard out of South Florida, went to the Mavs with the 25th overall pick. Lin had just graduated with an economics degree from Harvard but went undrafted and couldn't buy an NBA look until Donnie Nelson offered him a spot to play in Vegas.
In the most memorable game of the summer, Dallas lost to Washington and No. 1 draft pick John Wall, 88-82. The Mavs played from behind nearly the whole way. Rodrigue Beaubois, coming off his promising rookie season, was a virtual no-show, picking up early fouls and going scoreless in less than 16 minutes of action.
That wasn't the case for Jones, who battled Wall toe-to-toe for a good chunk of three quarters. Jones finished with a game-high 28 points and an impressive block on Wall, but it was Lin who stole the show in the fourth quarter as he and Wall went back and forth with one spectacular play after another. Lin scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth and made a spectacular spin move for a basket, but was whistled for a charge, a call that so riled the Cox Pavilion crowd that they nearly blew the roof off the place.
On Sunday, Jones and Lin will reunite when the Mavs play the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. And who could have predicted the roles the two will be playing? Lin is now the starting point guard and savior for the Knicks, who are 7-0 since he was inserted into the rotation and 6-0 with Lin as the starting point guard.
Jones is the seldom-used guard on a veteran-laden Dallas team. He's finally got a crack to get on the floor with Delonte West out with a fractured right ring finger, Jason Terry out Friday for personal reasons and possibly Sunday, and Beaubois away from the team after his father passed away. Jones played 31 minutes in Wednesday's win, going for four points, six assists, four rebounds and just one turnover.
"I just say it’s unexpected and then he goes out there and does that, it blows away the basketball world," Jones said of Lin's now-legendary two-week run. "He’s a great guy. The whole story, people are just so happy to see that going on because he’s just such a good guy, just one of the best all-around people that I’ve met."
It's conceivable at some point during Sunday's game that Jones will find himself matched up on his former summer teammate and the toast of New York.
"Oh yeah, I think that will be a challenge," Jones said. "I’m not worried about them or what they do. I’m just trying to focus here and get better at the things the team needs me to get better at."