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Suns’ Derrick Jones Jr. asked to score more in NBA Summer League

(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

PHOENIX — To earn minutes last season, Derrick Jones Jr. had to prove himself defensively, even against the MVP of the league, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook. It’s the part of his game he takes the most pride in.

But now comes a different role for Jones Jr. as he and the Suns get ready to play Sacramento in their Summer League opener on Friday.

“With this team, we want him to go out and be who he is, try to be a scorer, be a little bit more aggressive, be active,” Garnett said.

Told the Suns want him to be more offensive-minded, Jones Jr. paused momentarily.

“It’s not my first option. My first option is always to find the best look for the team, and if the best look is a wide open 3 for me or to dribble and me kicking the ball to my teammate — I’m just always looking to make the right play,” he said. “I’m not so worried about scoring. I never am. I just want to win; win and make the right play every time.”

Jones Jr. is spending a lot of time shooting the ball this summer. Early morning, after practice. It’s about repetition, he said.

The Suns see him being more than just a good defender and explosive around the rim (33 of his 68 made field goals were dunks). They want him to expand his game; come off pick-and-rolls and knock down the 3-point shot.

Seeing his most significant playing time over the season’s final eight games, Jones Jr. averaged 10.3 points, including a career-high 15 against Dallas on April 9.

“I’m just taking no days off, no lapses. I want to be the best player that I can be. I got to be here everyday putting in the work,” he said. “I mean, if you want to be the best, you got to work like the best. You got to play against the best. That’s why I’m in this league right now, so I can be the best.”

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