(J Alexander Diaz/Los Angeles Lakers)
Latest Laker: Jared Dudley Mixes Vet Leadership with High IQ Play
After a dozen years in the NBA, Jared Dudley is looking to bring veteran presence and on-court production to his new home in Los Angeles.
Dudley knows that much of his value lies in being a professional and a teacher in the locker room, though the 34-year-old can still hold his own on the hardwood.
Just ask the Brooklyn Nets, who bounced back into the playoffs last season with Dudley starting in nearly half of his 59 games played.
A small forward for most of his career, Dudley has moved up a position in recent years. At power forward, his chief offensive talent — shooting — becomes even more of a bonus to his team’s spacing since it forces opposing bigs to abandon defending the paint.
Dudley shot 35.1 percent from 3-point distance last year — just a hair below league average but above-par for power forwards. He was particularly potent on spot-up attempts, ranking in the NBA’s 73rd percentile (1.07 points per possession; 43.7% FG).
But Dudley was more impactful for the Nets on the defensive side, where the 6-foot-7, 237-pounder never hesitated to grapple with the league’s behemoths.
He was such a cinderblock down low that Brooklyn even had him play a good deal of center, allowing them to unlock fast-paced, shooter-heavy lineups.
Even in double-overtime against Portland, Dudley was counted on to outmuscle the “Bosnian Beast,” Jusuf Nurkic.
However, while Dudley will have his opportunities to wrestle bigger power forwards, his center opportunities could be limited given that the Lakers have three giants — JaVale McGee, Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis — available at that spot.
Fortunately for the Boston College product, post play is only part of his defensive toolbox.
The second-oldest player on the Lakers’ roster, Dudley’s experience gives him perhaps the best defensive fundamentals on the team. He is often cited as one of the most intelligent players in the league, and that shines through in his defensive timing and instincts.
He knows when his teammates need help (say, against a rolling Rudy Gobert), but always makes sure to leave enough of a window to get back to his man and contest a shot.
And age certainly hasn’t damped Dudley’s spirit or activity.
He brings a certain gusto to his teams’ defenses, establishing a tone for his teammates by rushing to close out on shooters and pestering opponents with constantly active hands.
A San Diego native returning to SoCal, Dudley will look to share lessons learned from over a decade in the association. And while he may not be the star of this team, he has shown that he has the skill set necessary to play a role on a playoff-bound club.
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