Jared Dudley sees role reversal, plateau in production


When Phoenix traded Boris Diaw to Charlotte for Jason Richardson back in 2008, it received Jared Dudley as an extra throw-in as part of the deal.

What the Suns didn’t know: they were getting was someone with a chip on their shoulder. An edge. A bit player intent on proving he was more than that.

For two years Dudley did just that, pushing the starters in front of him, starters who knew that head coach Alvin Gentry had no problem sitting them in favor of Dudley’s hustle and improved shooting stroke if they weren’t providing at least that much on the floor themselves.

Dudley found out what that feels like this season. Now a known-quantity with a long-term contract, the Boston College product, saw his minutes — and role — fluctuate after P.J. Tucker started providing the hustle and energy on which Dudley once prided himself. Assumed to be a full-time starter with both Richardson and Grant Hill gone, Dudley started just 50 of the 79 games he played this season.

It hasn’t helped that Dudley’s production has basically flatlined over the past three seasons.

Jared Dudley’s per 36 minutes stats

Such a span might be expected over a player’s “prime” (age 28-32), but Dudley is just turning 28 this summer, marking a premature plateau during what should be a stretch of making the leap from potential to finished product. And while Dudley was never pegged as a potentially elite wing player, his settling into a role player’s production hasn’t helped the Suns’ glaring need for a difference-maker at that position.

More concerning is Dudley’s decreasing ability to affect a game’s outcome with hustle plays. In the past he would lift the team’s energy with aggressive defense, rebounding and winning loose balls. This season, no one came close to Tucker in those departments, though it’s doubtful a double-dose of hustle would have led to many more wins without the talent to back it up.

Dudley may not be entirely to blame. Like Marcin Gortat, Dudley probably had difficulty raising his game in a fallen offense without Steve Nash. Losing former head coach Alvin Gentry, one of Dudley’s biggest advocates since arriving in Phoenix, likely didn’t help either.

Another factor: Dudley’s position. With his improved shot from deep, both Gentry and Lindsey Hunter felt comfortable playing Dudley at off-guard, rather than at small forward. The switch is subtle, and for many players not a big deal.

For Dudley, it makes all the difference.

As starting guard (37 games in 2012-13): 27.3 mpg, 9.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.3 apg, 0.7 spg, 43.1 FG%

As starting forward (13 games in 2012-13): 37.2 mpg, 16.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 4.2 apg, 1.5spg, 51.7 FG%

Kevin Durant feels Dudley’s pain. He felt it twice, in fact, in 2007-08 and 2008-09.

Whether through the draft, free agency or trade, the Suns are likely to address their perimeter scoring needs sooner than later. With Dudley locked into his contract for at least another two seasons (he has a player option for 2015-16), he becomes a very tradeable asset while earning just $4.25 million a year. It’s a depressing fact for a player that was once considered untouchable for what he brought to the table in terms of pure intangibles.

He’ll need to find those again if he wants to secure his role in Phoenix.

  • Forever is2long

    i suspect Dudley would do reasonably well on a playoff relevant roster. Since no one IMO should be an untouchable in Phoenix, he too should be available for trade. However if he cannot be traded for a 1st round pick or suitable young asset, his professionalism and work ethic should not be understated and therefore he should have value to the Suns.

  • Scott

    Was I the only one happy to see Dudley was included in the trade from Charlotte? I felt he was a key part of the trade, but it seems no one else knew who he was or expected anything from him.

    While it’s true I didn’t think much of him in the draft, and I wouldn’t have picked him, his ability as a jack-of-all trades hustling glue guy was obvious when he played against the Suns while in Charlotte.

    @forever -

    Ditto. I think Dudley would play better on a better team, and while I’ve liked him, I expect him to be traded for a good asset of some sort.

    If the Suns are as young and bad as I expect next season, Dudley has no place on it.

  • Scott

    BTW, Combine interviews are accumulating at DX …

    http://www.draftexpress.com/article/NBA-Combine-Interviews-Oladipo-Crabbe-Goodwin-Ennis-4185/

    One nice thing about Oladipo is he seems genuinely happy to play basketball. That’s probably the secret behind his motor.

    Goodwin glossed over his shortcomings and seemed a bit boastful, which was annoying, but his eyes are the eyes of a competitor.

  • foreveris2long

    We need to find another Richard Dumas in this draft without the drugs. What a talent!

  • bill.thomas

    @foreveristoolong: I think that’s what Beasley was supposed to be. Wasn’t John Lucas s’posed to be his Godfather or something???

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Scott, I was also happy to see Dudley come over in the Charlotte trade….his best role is probably the 6th-7th man on a championship caliber squad.

    Interesting to see Ennis….the last name in that DX interview.
    Saw a mock draft yesterday…think it was NBADraft.net that had the Suns taking Cody Zeller with the 4th pick & Ennis (Long Beach St) with the 30th pick.

    Anyway….tonight’s the night.
    What is Babby bringing along for a Good Luck Charm ?

  • Scott

    It’s been a year, but I’m warming up to Cody Zeller again … as PF, not C.

    I’m not sure I’d take him with a #4 pick, as there is some risk he would be unable to adapt his game. I’d prefer to add him with a later pick if the Suns get one, like the Dallas pick (if he’s still on the board). On the other hand, McD will be able to see him play in person, and that should add confidence to the pick (or lack thereof).

    Zeller was rated as having poor explosiveness and lateral quickness by scouts, but at the Combine his leaping was good and his agility test ranked him with Ray McCallum, and just ahead of Phil Pressey … highest of all big men.

    It’s possible he could be a Chambers / Nowitzki type.

  • BCrayZ

    Will Frye be able to play?

    Dud would be very happy to see him back.

    Need to also sign Louis & The Brazilian Blur.

    MUST reunite that killer bench unit. Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • john

    @forever

    I just read the article from the Republic, iirc, about Richard Dumas. Made me sad to think about such talent wasted. Barkley said of him that he was probably the most talented guy he ever played with. Some of Barkley’s non-Suns teammates?

    Olajuwon
    Drexler
    Erving
    Malone

    Yeah, I’d say that’s a pretty amazing compliment.