James Jones transforms the Phoenix Suns from a lottery-bound joke into a serious playoff contender. The former NBA journeyman has used his experiences as a pro to nurture a championship culture.
James Jones is considered a All-NBA Journeyman considering his illustrative career. In 2003, James Jones was selected by the Indiana Pacers with the 49th overall pick. He went on to play for the Pacers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Miami Heat, and Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 3-time NBA Champion shot 40% from three during his 14-year NBA career. Jones never averaged more than 10 points per game during a single season.
James Jones was just good enough to always have a spot on an NBA roster, but not great enough to be given many long-term contracts. After winning executive of the year, James Jones earned himself his first multi year contract.
The skepticism behind the hiring of James Jones made no sense. Although Jones’ promotion to general manager came shortly after his first front office role, his lack of experience in the field proved to be unimportant.
James Jones understood that every player has a role. Mastering his role as one of the premier 3-point specialists helped solidify the former second round pick. Jones knew that each roster only had one or two go-to players. If you weren’t that guy, one must find what they do best and perfect it in order to stick in the NBA.
Not many second round picks last as long as James Jones did. His experiences on championship teams helped make his transition to general manager easy. Jones had a front row seat to seven consecutive NBA Finals as a bench player.
James Jones witnessed what it took to develop a championship caliber team and understood the importance of every NBA player on a roster. We knew that James Jones was a star in his role, so why was a hiring like this ever questioned?
Here is a deeper look at the James Jones Effect.
James Jones the Player
James Jones and Lebron James both entered the league in the 2003 draft. The duo first became teammates when James arrived in Miami for the 2010-2011 season.
From then on, Jones and James built a relationship that still carries to this day. Lebron James has been said to call Jones his “favorite player of all-time.”
After four years in Miami, the two were able to capture a pair of titles. However, Lebron James decided to return home to Cleveland in hopes of bringing a title to The Land.
The relationship Lebron built with Jones during their time in Miami proved to be unbreakable. Lebron asked Jones if he’d like to follow him to Cleveland, stating that Jones was “the greatest teammate he’s ever had.”
James Jones is somebody who grew up in Miami, playing college basketball for the Miami Hurricanes. Ultimately, Jones decided to follow Lebron to Cleveland.
James Jones and Lebron James brought Cleveland a championship in one of the greatest Finals series in NBA history. The Cleveland Cavaliers overcame a 3-1 deficit to defeat the 73-9 Golden State Warriors.
Although Jones’ role was compromised during his stint in Cleveland, his veteran leadership was vital. Rarely do players like Jones receive recognition, but their teammates know how important they were throughout the journey.
Players like Jones, who understand their roles and are willing to do whatever it takes to help their team win, are needed to create a championship culture. The knowledge that Jones garnered throughout his seven consecutive finals appearances helped make his transition to general manager that much easier.
James Jones the General Manager
James Jones served as interim GM during the 2018-19 season following the firing of Ryan McDonough. Prior to this, Jones spent the last two seasons as Suns’ vice president of basketball operations.
During his time as interim GM, Jones acquired Kelly Oubre to help begin the rebuild process. After finishing last in the Western Conference, James Jones was then promoted to GM after the 2018-2019 season. Franchise doubters were skeptical of this move due to Jones’ lack of experience.
In one of his first key moves, James Jones hired Monty Williams as head coach. The Phoenix Suns improved drastically going 26-39 before COVID-19 shocked the world.
The Phoenix Suns received an invite to the Orlando NBA Bubble in hopes of making the Play-In tournament. The Suns went a perfect 8-0 in Orlando and only missed the tournament because of a tiebreaker loss with Memphis, finishing with identical records.
This run gave the Valley a renewed sense of hope. It also earned the team a lot of new fans. One of those fans happened to be Chris Paul.
Monty Williams was named Coach of the Year during the 2019-2020 season. With this news, Jones was then able to build a competitive roster, acquiring hall of fame point guard Chris Paul.
James Jones then acquired Cam Johnson, Cameron Payne, and Jae Crowder. These acquisitions led to the Suns’ making the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Jones was named NBA Executive of the Year after Phoenix finished with the second best record in the league. The Suns made an unexpected NBA Finals appearance during the 2020-2021 season, falling short to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Lebron James was ecstatic for his former teammate, “YELLING CONGRATS to my brother James ‘CHAMP’ Jones.”
The Suns’ went on to finish the 2021-2022 season with a franchise record 64 wins. Aside from Paul, Jones has been more than effective finding role players for the Suns. Jones’ recently signed Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton to supermax extensions.
With Phoenix’s core intact, the Suns will look to win the franchises first NBA title, thanks to the help of James Jones.
The James Jones effect is clear. James Jones knows what it takes to nurture a championship culture. Players around the league understand the importance of people like Jones.
James Jones has taken the lessons he’s learned as a player into the front office. His ability to understand the importance of players’ roles and winning transformed the Suns from a lottery-bound joke into a serious playoff contender.
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