Suns’ coach Watson: Jared Dudley is ‘obvious’ choice for starter

Oct 4, 2016, 2:30 PM

Phoenix Suns guard Jared Dudley (3) dribbles the ball against the Washington Wizards during the fir...

Phoenix Suns guard Jared Dudley (3) dribbles the ball against the Washington Wizards during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 16, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

LISTEN: Earl Watson, Suns head coach

The NBA season is quickly approaching, and the Suns have their starting lineup set for the opener on Oct. 26 against the Sacramento Kings.

Head coach Earl Watson announced the lineup before the team’s 91-86 preseason win over the San Antonio Spurs. The starters are Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, Jared Dudley and Tyson Chandler.

There were a couple things that stood out when the starters were announced, the first being Brandon Knight coming off the bench. Watson referred to Knight as the “sixth starter,” despite being the second-leading scorer for the Suns a season ago, averaging 19.6 points per game. Another thing that jumped off the page was Jared Dudley being named as the starting power forward.

Watson joined the Doug and Wolf show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM to discuss his lineup and what he’s expecting from the Suns.

“It’s 82 games in an NBA season, and we all know that’s fluid with injuries,” Watson said. “But when you talk about, what’s the blue print, it’s the plan, and the role that is the role for the season.”

Dudley stands at 6-foot-7, which is smaller than the prototypical power forward, but Watson is leaning on Dudley to help guide the two first-year big-men. When it came to the lineup, Watson said there wasn’t any question who was going to get the nod at the power forward position.

“Yeah I think it’s the obvious [choice]. Jared Dudley comes with a lot of experience, we have two young guys right there at that power forward position, with Marquese (Chriss) being one and (Dragan) Bender being the other who can slide over from a small forward, so I don’t think it’s a bit of a surprise.”

Over his career, Dudley has averaged 8.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game while shooting 47 percent from the field and 39.9 percent from 3-point range.

With the starting lineup being announced three weeks before the season begins, Watson wanted to instill in all the players’ minds what their roles are, and that any grumblings from unhappy players won’t be an issue.

“I think we just focus on doing all the right things,” Watson said. “We don’t believe in internal competition. We believe in internal momentum and empowering each other to doing something great, so we remove all that early.”


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