The last time Jared Dudley was in a conference final was nine years ago when he was 24 years old and in his third year in the league. Traded to Phoenix from Charlotte, Dudley a late round pick from Boston College found himself going up against the team he is now employed by. The Lakers played Phoenix in an entertaining series with a heartbreaking game 5. The series was tied 2-2 and Game 5 was at Staples. Dudley played 20 minutes and was very productive. He shot 60% and 50% from three. He had 4 rebounds and 10 points but the game came down to a Kobe jumper with 3 seconds left and a tie game. Bryant was guarded by Dudley and threw up an airball so kudos to Dudley. But Metta World Peace bullied Jason Richardson off the court and scooped the rebound and laid it in. Lakers went up 3-2 and Kobe closed Game 6 to send the Lakers to a second straight NBA Finals. Dudley went somewhere too. Here. There. And everywhere.
He was in Phoenix for three more years and endured the Steve Nash trade to Los Angeles that failed disastrously. Dudley played with the Clippers and when it was over got into a war of words with Doc Rivers. He accused the Clips of playing him when they he was hurt. Then it was on to Milwaukee, Washington, back to Phoenix, and last year’s success was with Brooklyn. He was valuable off the bench as an open shotmaker and someone willing to take a charge. In addition, he was a mentor to young D’Angelo Russell who became an All-Star.
In Brooklyn, Dudley shot the three at a 35% clip and was successful hitting mid-range shots. Despite his trash talking, he was a disaster in the playoffs, not making shots but not defending either. Still, the season was a comeback of sorts for Dudley. He succeeded at what he wanted to prove. He is still an impact player.
Bet the best of Jared Dudley is in front of the camera. He has a way with words thus Media Day was his personal showcase touting his charisma, happiness, enthusiasm and comedy schtick.
On getting rough with LeBron James or Anthony Davis: “Any flagrant foul on LeBron James, just give me that $20,000 fine. It’s on, straight up. Anyone touches Anthony Davis or LeBron James, that’s part of my job here. I’ve made my money, they can make my minimum. Nah, they can’t take that…You stand for your guys and so even though it’s not the old days where you could fight, there’s a certain thing you have to have.”
About teammate Dwight Howard, he talked about Howard’s 25 snakes. Then he said he and Howard are part of Last Chance U. “Last Chance University? It’s a last chance for all of us. You win, you get more chances.”
His thoughts on Kyle Kuzma is that he wants to be his mentor and push Kuzma into his better basketball self. “We play the same position. What can I do off the court to help him get his full potential? Kyle Kuzma is really the key for us. He’s the one that has the potential that is untapped to where he could become an All-Star player. I did it with D’Angelo Russell where he was benched in fourth quarters and I would watch film with him on the plane, help him expand and become an All-Star”
Lack of confidence is never a Jared Dudley thing. He also talked about mentoring Bradley Beal, Devin Booker and had a part to play in Giannis Antetokounmpo becoming the Greek Freak. (insert laughter).
On why he is still in the league while more talented players are not. “Knowing your role, being a good teammate off the court is just as big as on the court because GM’s and front offices don’t like knucklehead. Those guys [Grant Hill, Steve Nash, Jason Richardson] taught me how to be a pro.”
Dudley admitted that the Lakers was the first free agent decision in his career that everyone in his family, including his wife, kids and mother were in agreement. His role is less defined but he gets how important chemistry is. The team has already been together for a month, practicing, dinners out, just getting to know one other. There is an upcoming family picnic before they go to China for more time together. But, it is the chance to go to the Finals that had Dudley zeroing in on this Lakers opportunity.
“This year is strictly about trying to win.”