The Phoenix Suns were never a realistic landing spot for top free agents such as Kevin Durant, Harrison Barnes or Al Horford. After drafting Croatian big man Dragan Bender and Washington’s Marquese Chriss in the NBA draft, the Suns had firmly begun their rebuilding phrase.
Although Phoenix had shifted to a widespread youth movement, general manager Ryan McDonough did dip his toes in the free agency pool.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Ben Leibowitz, Phoenix’s signing of Jared Dudley might turn out to be one of the better ones of the offseason.
The three-year, $30 million deal Jared Dudley reached with the Phoenix Suns may not look like a bargain on the surface. However, when accounting for the veteran’s locker-room presence, history with the franchise and the team’s need for leadership among a collection of young prospects, the move makes a ton of sense for general manager Ryan McDonough.
The 31-year-old spent five out of six seasons with the Suns from 2008 through 2013. Dudley entered the starting lineup in 2012, where the small forward averaged a career-high 12.7 points per game.
Dudley’s role this time around won’t necessarily have him scoring in high amounts, but the addition of his shooting is an upgrade over the current Phoenix small forward, P.J. Tucker.
A prototypical “three-and-D” wing player, Dudley made 42% of his three-pointers last season with the Washington Wizards. That ranked No. 8 among all qualified players.
Considering the Suns’ starting small forward last season was P.J. Tucker, who only made 33% of his 206 attempts from deep, the reunion with Dudley is a massive upgrade at the position in terms of outside shooting.
ArizonaSports’ Bryan Gibberman echoed this sentiment and wrote that the signing of Dudley should increase the Suns’ shot attempts in the restricted area and from three-point range, an area the team has struggled from in the past few seasons.
While the type of impact Dudley has regarding those areas remains to be seen, the veteran is prepared to come in as a mentor for these young Suns. The overall value and final outcome of his deal with Phoenix might not hinge on how Dudley performs on the court, but how he can teach the future Phoenix players the game of basketball.
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