What Did the Suns Get in Jared Dudley?

New Phoenix Sun Jared DudleyJason Richardson is a relatively known commodity at this point. The former NCAA champ at Michigan State has been a 20-point scorer, he’s led the league in three-pointers, he’s won a pair of dunk contests, he’s bounced a basketball off of Carlos Boozer’s considerable dome. We know him. Who we don’t know, or hear, much about is the other player sent to Phoenix in last week’s trade between the Suns and Bobcast: Jared Dudley.

What does this kid bring to the table?

The 22nd pick of the 2007 NBA draft, Dudley stands at 6-7 and weighs in at a 225 pounds, putting the 23-year-old forward in classic tweener territory. He’s not quite quick or athletic enough to guard small forwards and he doesn’t have the outside stroke of a 3, and yet he’s a tad undersized and underweight at power forward.

Despite that tweener status and generally underwhelming athletic prowess, Jared was voted ACC Player of the Year for 2007 and was a second team All-American the same season. There’s a reason for that: Dudley can do a lot of things fairly well and he has no glaring weaknesses in his game. At the NBA level he can be a Swiss army knife off the bench who does a little of everything.

Let’s take a quick look at some of Dudley’s rookie statistics. His per 36 minute averages last year were 11 points, 7.4 total rebounds, 3.1 offensive boards, 2.1 assists and 1.4 steals on 47% FGs. None of these numbers will jump out at you, but they’re pretty solid for a rookie who isn’t an offensive player and was stuggling to get consistent playing time on one of the worst teams in the league. His contributions amounted to a 41.2 Win%, above the team’s (and Raymond Felton’s) Win%.

He’s rarely played big minutes in his brief NBA career, but what I’ve seen from Dudley has been intruiging. Every once in a while he drops 15 points or 3 steals or 5 offensive boards in very few minutes. He shows a lot of grit, passion, and hustle – especially on the offensive glass. Dudley also looks to have a strong feel for the game and a high basketball IQ, almost always playing within himself, his skill set and the flow of the game. With an abnormal wingspan he also plays long, especially on the glass, and Dudley does possess some scoring skills that he could develop.

This summer during our Scribes of the NBA interview series we talked to Brett Hainline, the curator of Queen City Hoops, my favorite Bobcats blog. When asked about what we can expect from Dudley he had the following to say:

He is a future starter – as long as he is going to be the fourth or fifth guy on the court. Jared is a solid, smart basketball player – he knows what the team needs and he did his best to fill that role as a hustle player with an emphasis on rebounding. Though I was unsure of the comparisons around the draft, watching him play last season led me to accept the similarity with Shane Battier – though not the defender Shane is, Jared is the type of player winning teams need. A glue guy who can score effectively without requiring plays run for him.

Brett saw more of Dudley than I did last season, but I’m not sure I’m quite as optimistic. He’s a potential starter in an ideal situation, but I think Dudley more likely projects as a solid forward off the bench, a 6th or 7th man, in a strong rotation. His hustle on defense and smarts on both ends make him a player that you don’t worry about on the floor and his offensive rebounding skills provide a nice boost in whatever minutes you throw his way. His offense has been very limited thus far, but coming out of college Dudley’s mid-range game was supposed to be a strength and if he could get that on track he would be deserving of 20+ minutes a game. Hopefully Jared can get there, because I think the kid just has the feel of a role player on a winning squad.

Related Reading:
ETB Scribes of the NBA Interview Series – Brett Hainline of Queen City Hoops
Toothless – Why the Charlotte Bobcats Aren’t Making Progress and What Needs to be Done

Jared Dudley Photo Credit: Icon SMI


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