During last week’s appearance on Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf, Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley made it known that he wanted a coach who knew the game inside and out and who could teach the fundamentals.
New general manager Ryan McDonough certainly answered Dudley’s wishes with the hire of Jeff Hornaceck, a consummate professional during both his 14-year NBA career and two-plus seasons on Tyrone Corbin’s staff with the Utah Jazz.
And for a player who will now be going on his third coach (Alvin Gentry, Lindsey Hunter and Hornacek) in under a year, Dudley didn’t hold back his excitement.
“We all remember Jeff as a player, how he was a great player and a hard-working player,” Dudley said Tuesday. “Most of us that are my age, know him from [his days in] Utah. He was probably just as good a player in his prime when he was in Phoenix, but obviously in Utah he played against Jordan and had all those highlights.
“But he was an ex-player with the Suns, so it kind of brings that back full circle. It kind of creates a little bit more good buzz. Players like myself are excited, because we needed a little change… We’re trying to build for the future.”
While he was an All-Star during the 1991-92 season, a lot has been made since the hire was announced about Hornacek’s ability to make the most out of his talents during his time with Phoenix, Utah and the Philadelphia 76ers.
The former Iowa State standout made a name for himself not for being a star but for being a proficient shooter who was willing to do whatever it took to help his teams win.
It’s a description that could also be used when talking about the way Dudley approaches the game.
“Me and Jeff Hornacek we don’t have the great physical abilities of someone else, but what I’ve seen from him, he was a hard worker as a player,” said Dudley. “I heard good things from different players in Utah about him being a shooting coach and everyone liking him. That’s kind of my style: hard-working, team guy and guys liking me.
“I’m excited to get to work with him. Any time you bring in need blood and new energy it turns out pretty good.”
In Dudley’s eyes, hiring Hornacek infuses the franchise with new energy, but also reaffirms a need to get back to team-first basketball.
“I definitely believe [this hire is good for me],” said Dudley. “Not only me but the team, because when you get into the team concept we all do well. When you see the Spurs — and I hate to use the Spurs because that’s our rival — but that’s a team. They’re successful for a reason.
“Do they have stars? Yes. Are some of them aging? Yes, that happens. But from the role players, everyone has a job, everyone does their job.”