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Jared Dudley believes Suns gave some young players ‘keys too early’

Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley (3) allows the ball to bounce out of bounds in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

LISTEN: Jared Dudley, Suns' forward

The Phoenix Suns are a young team. No one will deny that.

They were so young this season that, along with extenuating circumstances like roster balance and injuries, some of the youngest players on the roster were placed in important roles.

Second-year player Dragan Bender played 25.2 minutes per game and 20-year-old Marquese Chriss was at 21.2, for example, despite a track record in their rookie season that suggested they had earned extended minutes.

For certain players, Suns veteran Jared Dudely believes the team needed more of a situation where players like Bender and Chriss really had to earn their minutes.

“They just gave them the keys too early where there’s plenty of time for them to develop, earn it in practice, show in games that hey, this kid is too good not to start and then you give ’em the keys,” he said Thursday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo.

“You have to earn it before you give it to them.”

The team’s most recent top draft pick Josh Jackson was actually in a scenario that Dudley mentioned with T.J. Warren signing a long-term extension.

“For T.J. Warren, it made it easier for the organization (to) say ‘hey, you know what, we see him as our future, we just gave him $50 million, (Jackson’s) gotta earn it compared to everybody else,'” he said.

Dudley admitted that he is not the type of player like Warren where his contributions were valuable enough to challenge Bender and Chriss for real playing time, but he believes the point still stands for real positive development.

“You just need something where in the game time, you have to earn it,” he said.

With a potential new head coach coming in for next season and an expected overhaul of some level to the roster, it wouldn’t be surprising to see players like Bender, Chriss and the team’s selections in the upcoming NBA Draft be put in a situation Dudley brings up.

The 11-year pro said that in the rebuild, the Suns have looked to prioritize flexibility and draft picks instead of players who could play that role Dudley sees as valuable, but now that could change.

“Now I hope that after these two years of getting everything that they wanted, I hope that now it’s time,” he said.

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