Last June after only two games in an Atlanta Blaze uniform, Myles Jones was traded to the Chesapeake Bayhawks. The Blaze coaching staff had established an offensive system centered around two-man games and best suited for players with box lacrosse backgrounds. It was decided that Jones – who is at his best as a downhill dodger – didn’t fit into the close-quarters the Blaze like to play in.
One year later, the Bayhawks have built one of the league’s best offenses around Jones. The bread-and-butter of the Bayhawks’ offense is Jones’ downhill dodging ability – but his ability to fit around the other actions is what makes this one of the best units in the league.
The Bayhawks are scoring 14.7 points per 45 possessions (2nd in MLL), and in a cruel twist that will make Blaze fans sick to their stomachs, the Bayhawks are scoring a league-high 20.1 points per 45 pick-and-roll possessions. Jones serves as a field spacer for most of those pick-and-rolls, but he’s been able to run the show at times, too. Plays like this make you wonder what the Blaze offense (13.8 points per 45 possessions, 6th in MLL) might look like today with Jones in the mix.
Jones is quickly becoming the best shot creator in the league – both for himself and for teammates. He’s shooting 18-for-53 off the dodge (34.0%, well above the league average of 25.2%), and his 34 assist opportunities are more than double the total of any other Bayhawk. We know what he can do as a long dodger. When he gets a full head of steam, the result is usually a goal, a defender lying on his back on the turf, and Myles Jones flexing. But watch what he’s been able to do as a choppier re-dodger.
That dodge displays an entirely different skill set than the long dodges Jones typically takes. It’s a subtle difference, but it allows Jones to play alongside another ball dominant player like Lyle Thompson – who has shot a ridiculous 40.0% off the dodge in his MLL career. The Bayhawks wouldn’t be able to put the ball in Lyle’s stick as much (or enjoy success when they do) if Jones couldn’t make plays like that.
Like all elite players, many of the plays Jones makes are without the ball in his stick. His gravity pulls help defenders out to the two-point arc. He’s shooting 2-for-10 from downtown, so even when the Bayhawks put him on the weak side, the defense is reluctant to leave him. This Jake Froccaro-Josh Byrne pick-and-pop concept pulls a third defender to the ball, forcing the Rattlers defense into a decision: Help from Jones and allow Byrne to swing it to the Bayhawks star or ask the defender behind the cage to travel nearly three times the distance to fill the hole.
That second slide never stood a chance of arriving on time. Helping from Jones would be the only way to prevent that shot, but it’d present a dangerous alternative in the form of a hands-free Jones from two-point range.
When the Bayhawks lost their two leading scorers – Joe Walters (23G, 27A in 2016) and Brendan Mundorf (42G, 4A) – to player movement and retirement this offseason, they sought some high-risk, high-reward replacements. As dominant as Lyle Thompson and Myles Jones are on their own, there was no guarantee that the two would play well together. Adding box lacrosse superstar Shawn Evans and Canadian rookie Josh Byrne to this offense made the Lyle trade even riskier.
Chesapeake could have accidentally assembled the same two-man heavy offense that Atlanta felt was a poor fit for Jones’ skill set. Instead, the two-man games have complemented Jones, who has rightfully remained at center stage in Chesapeake.