James Jones went from a second-round draft pick to a three-time NBA champion. Every player has a different path to success, and Jones is a perfect example.
Jones was dealt a lucky hand when he came into the league and throughout his NBA career. He played for five different teams during his time in the NBA and was never part of a losing team.
James Jones’ NBA career
The Indiana Pacers selected Jones in the second round of the 2003 NBA draft. He was a talented player in college at the University of Miami (FL) but fell to the second round of the draft. He spent two seasons with the Pacers coming off the bench.
In his first season with the Pacers, he was a part of a 61-21 team that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Jones was introduced to winning early on in his career. The next season the Pacers went back to the playoffs with a 44-38 record and ended up losing in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
After his time in Indiana, Jones was headed out west. He was traded to the Suns in 2005, and the Suns were one of the top teams in the Western Conference at the time. Jones saw his numbers increase in his first season with Phoenix. He averaged 9.3 points per game, which was a career-high for him at the time and would end up being the most points he averaged in his career. His turnover percentage of 5.23 turnovers committed per 100 plays during that season set an NBA record for the lowest single-season turnover percentage.
That season the Suns made it to the Western Conference Finals losing to the Dallas Mavericks. The Suns had another successful season the next year but lost in the conference semifinals. For Jones, he was playing for the top teams in the league even though he almost did not get drafted to an NBA team. During the 2007-08 season, he was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers, and that year he won the three-point contest. The Trail Blazers did not make the playoffs that year, but they finished .500 with a 41-41 record.
Winning championships with Miami and Cleveland
At this point in his career, James was part of numerous winning teams, but he never had a chance to play in the NBA Finals. That would all change when he joined his hometown team, the Miami Heat. He joined the Heat in 2008 and made the playoffs every year playing for them. During the 2011-12 seasons, the Heat were favorites to win the title. Jones was able to experience his first NBA title and would then win his second one the next year.
He had a lot of success playing back in his hometown. After spending five seasons in Miami and winning two championships, he decided to head to Cleveland with his Heat teammate LeBron James. In 2016, Jones won his third NBA title and was a part of a Cleveland Cavaliers team that won their first title in franchise history.
The next season would be his last in the NBA as the Cavaliers made it back to the finals and lost to the Golden State Warriors. In his 14 years playing in the NBA, Jones never experienced a losing season. He made it to the playoffs 12 times and has multiple titles added to his resume.
Still having success after playing
Right after his playing career was over in 2017, Jones found himself involved in basketball. In July of 2017, a month after the finals, he was named the vice president of basketball operations for the Phoenix Suns.
A year later, he was named an interim general manager for the Suns and ended up becoming the team’s permanent general manager. Jones’ success playing in the NBA translated to the front office, and he continues to have success.