Since general manager Ryan McDonough took over the Phoenix Suns prior to the 2013-2014 season the offense has had a basic goal — maximize shots in the restricted area and from three-point range.
In all three seasons he’s been in charge, the Suns have taken slightly over 60 percent of their attempts from those two places. The problem is the efficiency has headed in the wrong direction.
From ’13-’14 to last year, Phoenix’s field goal percentage has dropped by about three points from three and four near the basket.
The signing of Jared Dudley is supposed to help reverse the trend. McDonough explained the concept when he introduced Dudley last week.
“In terms of style, we wanted somebody that could stretch the floor, open up the lanes for our guards and somebody who was unselfish and move the ball, and play with the point-five mentality that Coach Watson and his staff want to play with.”
With the Wizards last season, Dudley played 94 percent of his minutes at power forward, Washington had a 104.1 offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) with him on the court and a 101.7 ORtg with him off the court.
Washington’s numbers shifted positively for a few reasons:
- They took slightly more threes, 28.8 percent attempted compared to 27.5-percent, shooting them at essentially the same percentage.
- They shot three percent higher in the restricted area on two more attempts per game.
- Their assist rate was 3.6 percent higher.
“You could see my passing was highlighted more in a sense where I could go by him, you’re at the top of the key, and the whole lane spaced out so you can find other teammates,” explained Dudley about when he plays PF.
Dudley’s style of play increases quick decision making — 94.5 percent of his shots were with him holding the ball for zero or one seconds and on 90.8 percent of the attempts he dribbled twice or less.
The majority of the looks Dudley gets are of the catch and shoot variety — 72.1 percent to be exact. Of those, 46.1 percent are from deep, and he connected on those at an impressive 42.9 percent clip, the 15th-best rate in the league of players who attempted at least 200 catch-and-shoot threes.
Dudley will also help balance the court if he’s paired with P.J Tucker at the three/four spots because of the different locations their shots are concentrated in.
Tucker’s shot chart:
Dudley’s shot chart:
Dudley’s three-pointers tend to be above the break, 179-of-238 attempts (75.2 percent), and he made 39.2 percent of them. Tucker’s threes come mainly from the corners, 146-206 (70.8 percent), and he made 34 percent of them.
For a pairing like Dudley and Tucker to work, shot creation has to come from other areas much like it did for the Wizards when they played Dudley with Otto Porter. Dudley and Porter were on the court together last season for 1,009 minutes, 828 of those were with John Wall.
Wall was key because he had the ability to compromise a defense and set up his teammates — the aggressive point guard averaged eight drives per game and passed 41 percent of the time.
This is where Eric Bledsoe comes in for the Suns to be the vehicle for their offense that Wall was for the Wizards. Last season Bledsoe averaged an NBA-high 11.1 drives per game. He passed on 38 percent of those drives, the fourth-highest percentage of anyone who averaged eight drives per game and played over 30 minutes.
The player who ranked third?
Dudley is going to continue to do what he does at a high level, but he’s a complimentary piece to a quality offense.
It’s going to be up to those around him, mainly Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Devin Booker, to initiate allowing Dudley and others to stay within themselves.
If this happens the Suns have the formula to be an above average offense. If not Dudley’s skill set goes to waste.
All stats in this story are from NBA.com, SportVU or basketball-reference.com
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