Suns’ Jared Dudley to embrace role as veteran leader

Jul 6, 2016, 6:05 PM | Updated: Jul 7, 2016, 11:31 am
Phoenix Suns' Jared Dudley (3) drives against Los Angeles Clippers' Eric Bledsoe (12) during the se...
Phoenix Suns' Jared Dudley (3) drives against Los Angeles Clippers' Eric Bledsoe (12) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Phoenix. The Suns won 93-90. (AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)
LISTEN: Jared Dudley, Suns' forward

Jared Dudley is back.

He spent five seasons with the Suns from 2008 to 2013, going to the Western Conference finals in 2010. Since then, Dudley has seen time with the Clippers, Bucks and Wizards, and he now returns to a rebuilding Suns franchise to help lead their young talent.

“I think in general… one of the huge reasons why I’m here is for the leadership and for the locker room,” Dudley said on The Burns & Gambo Show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Wednesday. “Yes, that’s for (Dragan) Bender and (Marquese) Chriss and (Devin) Booker, but you still have a lot of guys like (Eric) Bledsoe. They’re just coming into their role, they still need leadership. Eventually, once they’re ready, I have no problem taking the back seat.”

[Related: Why the Jared Dudley signing is perfect for the Suns]

The Suns drafted Bender and Chriss, both power forwards, in the first round of this year’s draft. Both are just 18 years old, while Dudley, 30, has nine seasons of NBA experience.

“I’m confident in who I am as myself. I’m realistic about where I’m at in my career,” Dudley said. “I think playing in Milwaukee, helping guys like Giannis (Antetokounmpo) and Jabari (Parker) – I gave (Suns owner Robert) Sarver and Coach Watson and (GM Ryan) McDonough a story how I told Jason Kidd he needs to start Giannis over me. I went in there game 15, told him, ‘Hey, for this team to get to where they go, he needs to be a starter.'”

Of course, Dudley will contribute with his own skill on the court as well, likely at the power forward position. As he pointed out, the team became more interested in Dudley when former Suns power forward Mirza Teletovic signed with the Bucks.

A small forward with the Suns, Dudley saw time at power forward last season for the Wizards.

“My versatility,” Dudley said when asked how he’s different since he last played for the Suns. “Before, I never played power forward, now I play a lot of power forward from playing the three. Defensively, my communication. When you’re at home, watching the game, you’ll still be able to hear my voice through the microphone.”

He said those new experiences can help him mentor the younger players.

“I’ve always been a guy with high IQ, but being in the NBA going into my 10th year, I know all coverages. I can be able to adapt, now explain to the younger people like Bender, like Chriss, why it happens – like TJ Warren, like Archie Goodwin.”

Dudley’s contract is worth a reported three years, $30 million.

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