Brooklyn Nets Training Camp: Jared Dudley and New Additions Bring Forward Options
Returning starter Rondae Hollis-Jefferson leads a group with different specialties
What was once called the "power forward" position doesn't feel like it much in today's NBA, where what's now more typically called the "4" spot tends to be a place where teams value shooting and defensive versatility as the league trends smaller. And while post-up offense may not be as much of a priority there any longer, rebounding still is, making it one of those spots where everybody wants a little bit of everything.
It can be tough to fill that with one player.
"You can't just have a prototypical four man," said new Net Jared Dudley.
So what the Nets have done is given themselves options with a contingent of players -- Dudley among them -- who all bring a little something different to the spot. In the mix with returning starter Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are new arrivals Dudley, Kenneth Faried, two-way contract signee Alan Williams and even 6-foot-5 Treveon Graham. There's also DeMarre Carroll, who started last season at the "3" spot and sometimes slid down to the "4."
"I think versatility is key," said Dudley. "They brought in athleticism and rebounding with Faried, Alan Williams and Ed Davis. I’m a little bit different than what they have with the four. At one point in the NBA in my second year, I was a two-guard. Now, I’m a four where distributing is obviously a strong suit and I think IQ when it comes to the defensive end, being able to call switches, control.
"Even though I’m not a five-man, everywhere I’ve been, I’ve controlled a lot of defenses, transition defense and putting guys in the right position. I think that’s one thing they lacked when it comes to that defensively with guys being assertive and pointing people in the right direction. I think it’s a great fit for me. I’m looking forward to it."
With the 6-foot-7 Dudley, the Nets picked up a 12th-year veteran long known as one of the NBA's glue guys for his versatility and team play. Crucially, he also brought a career 39.7 3-point field goal percentage to Brooklyn, where the Nets were looking for more shooting from their forwards.
"This guy fits the way we play," is how Nets coach Kenny Atkinson described the evaluation he and GM Sean Marks both shared.
"He gives us some more versatility when we need more shooting on the floor," said Atkinson. "I think it’s big. I think it allows us to, kind of what we talked about, play big and play small with him.”
For the board work, the Nets brought in Faried and Williams. A starter in his first six years in Denver, Faried has been one of the NBA's most tenacious rebounders, with a per 36 average of 11.9. Williams, whose 2016-17 season was limited to five games after a knee injury, has a per 36 rebounding rate of 15.0 over three seasons and 62 games in the league.
Graham was an attractive addition largely because of his 43.8 career 3-point percentage, but during the first week of camp, Atkinson was enthusiastic about the 225-pounder's ability to contribute on the boards as well.
The Nets are hoping that group will be a strong complement to the versatile Hollis-Jefferson as he begins his fourth pro season.
"Rondae, what does he bring? Defense. He’s our top defender," said Atkinson. "That’s his role and he rebounds. That’s his niche and you can see when he’s out there we missed that. I can see during practice already. We miss his defensive ability, so can’t wait to see that full-time.”
Hollis-Jefferson was limited during the first week of camp due to an offseason adductor strain. He's coming off a strong third season in which he averaged career highs in points (13.9), rebounds (6.8) assists (2.5) and field goal percentage (47.2), bringing mid-range shooting, open-court explosiveness and defensive versatility to the spot. Among NBA players 6-foot-7 and shorter, Hollis-Jefferson was third in rebounding.
"I feel like for me personally, whenever I'm playing of whatever I do I try to bring that energy, that attitude, that aggression toward the game," said Hollis-Jefferson. "I feel like it just makes me that much better and makes me want to go that much harder. That's just the competitive nature of me. I feel like that's what makes my game. It drives me so much. I feel like if that can rub off to other guys, then theirs can rub off to other guys, we set this chain reaction which is amazing, which is what we want, which we'd love to have; 15 Rondaes energy-wise. Sky's the limit."