After 255 long days, Damian Jones finally returned to a basketball court for a competitive game.
The Warriors 30th-overall pick suited up for the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA D-League Friday and made his professional debut.
Jones, who last played in a basketball game March 15, had been recovering from a torn pectoral muscle suffered in the pre-draft process.
His return to action was a mixed bag to be sure, as his line wasn’t all that impressive. He shot just 1-for-5 for two points, seven rebounds, two assists and one block, and looked absolutely gassed throughout the fourth quarter.
But there are more than a handful of positives for Jones.
Most importantly he played 22 minutes, which is a great sign for the Warriors and the rookie. He also pulled in four offensive rebounds and was a plus-4, which led the team in plus-minus.
The most encouraging sign was something that didn’t show up in the box score — his defense.
Jones showed the ability to guard on the perimeter, moving his feet well and stopping penetration before they reached the rim.
His length also bothered almost everyone, even on jump shots as just his routine closeouts got in the heads of the offensive players and forced missed shots left and right.
He matched up with Okaro White who came into the game averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds on the season, and Jones held him to six points on 2-15 shooting and eight rebounds.
Now don’t go handing him the starting center spot in Golden State just yet though, as this was just the first and babiest of steps into the professional basketball world.
But what he did Friday was certainly encouraging, and that’s about the best news anyone could have hoped for.
Jones will continue to stay and start with Santa Cruz, and the Warriors will travel to Reno to take on the Bighorns Sunday.