Editor’s Note: This is the first piece from Marcus Bass who will be joining the Fully Clips crew. Give him a round of applause and welcome him to the gang.
In short, yes.
When the Los Angeles Clippers acquired the services of Jared Dudley this past summer, Head Coach Doc Rivers and General Manager Gary Sacks were under the impression that they would receive more service. With the intent of creating an equal shooting threat on both wings, providing extra options for point guard Chris Paul and spacing the floor for Blake Griffin, the Clippers were ecstatic about their addition to the three spot. With the Phoenix Suns Dudley was a key contributor, and upon first glance was poised to mirror his previous play with the Clippers.
Although the Clippers have embraced his meager shooting numbers that are well below average for starting small-forwards (35.8 percent from three-point range, and 44.6 percent in field goals), the bigger issue is on the defensive end where Dudley has been inconsistent with an inability to pick up players off-the-dribble, closing out on shooters, defending the pick-and-roll or playing decent team/help defense. He’s also averaging his career worst in rebounds at 2.2 a game, however much of that can be attributed to center DeAndre Jordan’s emergence as the league leader in boards. Dudley started 42-games straight until Clippers head coach Doc Rivers moved him to a reserve role. Since Matt Barnes has taken over the starting spot, the Clippers have notched nine wins and four losses, and although Barnes’ 38 percent shooting from the field and 31 percent from three isn’t much of an upgrade, Barnes’ ability to rebound and play better defense is worth the swap in the interim.
With an immediate need for the Clippers to improve depth in their frontcourt, at 28 years old, Dudley is impressive trade bait. He’s averaging 7.7 points, and 1.5 assists – playing on an easy to swallow three-year $12.7 million contract. He’s been viewed as an underachiever this season and visibly the odd man out, primarily due to the Clippers lofty expectations for the post-season. Dudley is taking the least amount of shots in his career since his 2009-10 season with the Phoenix Suns, and as a Clippers starter he’s been the fourth to fifth option in a group prepared to contend for the Western Conference throne – an unfamiliar situation for the swingman.
Trading for Dudley makes sense for the Clippers and other NBA GM’s. His numbers this season are poor, but for a team that’s teetering around the .500 mark and are interested in staying on course – Dudley’s numbers won’t make or break any situation. His 26 minutes per game serve for an easy transition with any squad he’s traded to, and if the Clippers can acquire a big-man capable of producing better offensive and defensive stats than their current reserve Ryan Hollins, it’s a win-win on both sides of the spectrum.