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Jared Dudley talks development of Suns’ youth, process of mentoring

Orlando Magic center Bismack Biyombo (11) and Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley vie for the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 17, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley, a 10-year NBA veteran, sees both the progress and the challenges of the young players that surround him on the roster.

Appearing on Arizona Sports 98.7  FM‘s Bickley & Marrota , Dudley discussed how the youth of the team affected the team in its 120-11 loss to the Warriors on Wednesday.

“It’s tough when you’re young,” Dudley said. “Everyone wants to score, and you’ve gotta have roles, you’ve gotta know timing of when a good shot is, defensively you have to hold each other accountable. They’re learning on the fly and it’s been an up-and-down battle.”

At 31, Dudley is the fourth-oldest player on the Suns roster, which features eight players younger than 25. The biggest name of the bunch is certainly 20-year-old Devin Booker, who Dudley says has the chance to be a future All-Star. However, Dudley also shared thoughts on where Booker can improve.

“I already told him next year you’ve got to average five assists,’ Dudley said. “You and Bledsoe can’t play 35 minutes and not average for both of you 15 assists, because the ball’s in your hand 90 percent of the time. That’s something they have to realize.”

Booker, who is averaging 3.2 assists per game this season, is part of another area Dudley wants to see the young players improve on. He has 11 technical fouls this season, just ahead of 10 by Marquese Chriss. While Dudley likes the edge, he thinks the young guys need to dial it back.

“It can’t be to the point where you’re at double-digit technical fouls this early in your career,” Dudley said. “Maybe when you’re older and you’re trying to get a call, but right now you’ve just gotta be playing the game. You’ve gotta pay your dues and stuff like that.”

Dudley is in the first year of a three-year, $30 million contract he signed in July. The Boston College alum is averaging 6.8 points and 3,5 rebounds this season in 62 games. Dudley has been a regular part of the rotation, but played in only one game between Dec. 26, 2016 and Jan. 24, 2017 in order to clear space for the young guys.

For Dudley, who has taken this season as a chance to help the players improve, not playing was a major challenge. He feels that while he knows losing minutes is part of the process, he thinks he can be more useful while playing.

“When you’re a vocal leader, you can help, but you can help young players more by playing, by showing when you’re out there,” Dudley said. “They play better when I’m on the floor because I’m not looking for my shot, I’m looking to make the right play. I did that with Milwaukee and by four or five months later, Giannis and these other guys started becoming more vocal and I didn’t need to do that.”


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