2012-13 Stats: 25.7 minutes, 10.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, .468 FG%, .391 3P%, .796 FT%, 14.9 PER
I mean this in the most respectful way ever when I say that Jared Dudley is a poor-man’s Shane Battier.
In other words he’s a pros pro.
Throughout his entire NBA career, Dudley has yet to play on a team considered to be a championship contender splitting his career between the Charlotte Bobcats and the Phoenix Suns. The last time Dudley played on a playoff team was in the 2009-10 season when the Suns pushed the Los Angeles Lakers to six games in the Western Conference finals. Since then Dudley’s talents have wasted away on fringe playoff teams and, last year, on a lottery team.
Now he has a chance to showcase his talents to the world. Looking solely at the numbers, many won’t think there will a difference between Dudley starting and Caron Butler starting as the two forwards posted slightly similar numbers last season. Except Jared did the “little things” better. He shot a higher percentage from the field, higher percentage from three and posted a higher PER. Unlike Butler, there’s no need for touches on the offensive end. He’s a low-usage, productive player.
Defensively he’s a bit different from Butler. Man-to-man Butler may win the battle at the moment, but when it comes to all-around defense, Dudley has the upper hand. He studies the tendencies of opponents, knows exactly where to be and when to be there. Dudley’s impact shows in the numbers. The ’12-13 Phoenix Suns team was bottom tier last season, yet their defensive rating improved by eight points when Dudley was on the floor.
Within Doc Rivers scheme, Dudley will have more freedom to roam defensively. Not having to focus on his offense on a nightly basis means he can exude more energy on the defensive end. Remember Shane Battier’s first year as a member of the Miami Heat? Having to only hit open three’s allowed him to focus on one end and excel at it. The case is the same for Dudley.
Like Battier, Dudley will be able to excel as a small-ball four due to his basketball IQ. Not too many teams in the Western Conference play small, but it’s more-so what the Clippers can do to teams rather than the opposite. The Miami Heat have ripped off two straight NBA championships by playing small. Having multiple shooters on the floor while the opposite decides to go with two traditional bigs opens the floor for cutters and slashers. In the Clippers case, this means Blake Griffin will have more room to work offensively which is always a plus. And with Griffin being one of the best passing big men in the corner, he’ll be able to hit the available shooters when teams decide to double down on him.
And a shooter is who Dudley is. Take a look at Dudley’s shot chart from last season, courtesy of NBA Stats:
Outside of the restricted area, Dudley is shooting at or above the league average on the floor. Los Angeles was top-5 in attempted corner three’s so Dudley will fit right in. His mid-range shooting is the biggest surprise here. With this information, Dudley will be ran off of several curls to put that high percentage shooting to use. Griffin and Paul are going to love passing to Jared.
Being on a better team usually allows for a player of Dudley’s caliber to perform better due to a lower usage, but playing alongside Chris Paul will do wonders for Dudley as a player. How do I know? Because it happened with Steve Nash. During the 2011-12 season, Dudley’s field-goal percentage jumped from eight percent when Nash was on the floor. At this point in his career, Paul is a better point guard than the Nash Dudley played with two years ago. Expect the same to happen with Paul.
Throughout his career, Dudley’s always been the player you hoped to see on a contender. Now’s his chance to show us right. Doc Rivers and Chris Paul will make great use of Dudley’s talents on both sides of the floor.