Jared Dudley was brought in for his veteran presence and to plug the hole left behind by the departed Paul Pierce. On offense, Dudley was exactly the stretch-4 that the Wizards needed. He’s a heady player, would draw his man outside of the paint, and would force defenses to find him in transition, otherwise he’d burn them for a three-pointer.
Dudley averaged 7.9 points per game this season and shot 42 percent from three-point range; his second best shooting percentage from three-point range in his career. But just like the Wizards, Dudley’s individual season had its ups and downs.
For about two-thirds of the season, his three-point shooting was above or hovering around 50 percent when he was starting at the power forward position. Dudley was great in transition and John Wall made it easy for Dudley to get wide-open looks from three-point range or just inside the arc as he averaged 3.2 field goals per game and shot 48.6 percent from the field prior to the All-Star break.
Since Dudley did most of his damage from three-point range, this gave John Wall open lanes to drive to the hole or kick the ball out for an open three when necessary. When Dudley would drive to the hole, there’d be open passing lanes as the first unit’s offense was predicated on getting out in transition and spacing the floor.
When Dudley was involved and hitting threes, the Wizards were very successful. He shot 47.6 percent in wins, 36 percent in losses.
Once the Wizards acquired Markieff Morris at the trade deadline, Dudley’s points, minutes and shooting percentages all dipped. Dudley played 7.9 minutes less per game after the trade deadline and his scoring average went from 8.9 points per game prior to the break to 6.2 points in the 31 games after the break. His three-point field goal shooting was even worse as it dropped from 46.6 percent to 32.5 percent.
Dudley never jelled with the second unit after being demoted to a backup once Morris arrived. Dudley benefitted greatly playing alongside Wall as he was able to get open looks from three-point range in transition. That all changed once he started playing with the second unit as the offense was predicated around post play. As a result, Dudley was forced to create his own shot or put the ball on the floor and drive more often, neither of which are strengths of his.
Still, even when Dudley did get time with Wall later in the season, he didn’t have the same effect as he did earlier in the season.
Dudley made it clear on his recent appearance on the Lowe Post that he doesn’t really care about starting or coming off the bench, but it’s clear he struggled adjusting to his new role after the break. Clearly, some of the blame for his late-season struggles are due to the coaching staff’s inability to put him in a role that maximized his strengths, but at the same time, his struggles serve as a reminder he needs to be in the right situation to maximize his skills.
When Dudley was playing alongside Wall in a steady role, he was an asset to this team. When he was demoted to the second unit and yanked around more, he became somewhat of a liability as he was forced to play outside of his comfort zone.
Going forward, I believe there is a roster spot available for Dudley if he chooses to stay. He’s not the most athletic guy out there but is still a very heady player. If the Wizards sign a pass first backup point guard, he should stay. If they don’t, it’s probably best for both parties to part ways.