Does Tyus Jones deserve a bigger role with the Grizzlies?

Memphis Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones-Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Memphis Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones-Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

Tyus Jones has been sensational when filling in for Ja Morant this season. Does he deserve a larger role with the Grizzlies even when Morant is healthy?

The Grizzlies managed to come away with a win last night, defeating the Spurs as expected 121-113. They did so despite missing Ja Morant for a second consecutive game with a sore thigh. Tyus Jones filled in for Morant, and he did so admirably with a 24-point, six-assist effort. That brought his averages as a starter to 21.1 points and 7.7 assists with 55.1/50/75 shooting splits.

There is a stark difference in his splits while starting despite only an 11-minute per-game difference in playing time. His bench stats are 8.6 points and 4.2 assists on 40.9/35.9/80.6 shooting splits. Clearly, Jones is being helped by having more minutes with the starters, but that begs the question: should he get more minutes with the starters even when Morant is healthy?

The case for Grizzlies to play Jones more

If there is one criticism of Ja Morant so far in his career, it’s his tendency to be banged up often. He has yet to play more than 67 games in a season and has already missed six games this season. His above-the-rim play style is incredible to watch and is what makes him special, but it’s hard not to worry about his health long-term. The player I and many others see when watching Morant is a young Derrick Rose. While that comparison is usually a positive one, it does invoke memories of the injuries that stole much of Roses’ prime.

Playing him and Jones together more would help take the pressure off a bit, as well as help him work on his off-ball ability. Jones is also a better pure point guard: he is currently fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio among players averaging over 20 minutes per game. Having Morant’s playmaking and Jones’s steady decision-making on the court together could really open things up offensively. It would have to be used carefully to avoid defensive issues, but a small-ball lineup of Jones/Morant/Bane/Brooks/Jackson Jr could be very fun in short bursts.

I doubt that Head Coach Taylor Jenkins will mess with his lineups very much, not with a winning streak still going. If he does, I hope it involves a bigger role for Jones. After yet another great performance last night, it will be hard not to give him more minutes with the starters moving forward.