Name: Jared Dudley
2013-2014 Key Stats: 6.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.4 APG, 43.8% FG, 36.0% 3PT, 65.5% FT
Years in the NBA: 7
Years with the Clippers: 1
2013-2014 Salary: $5,225,000
Contract Status: Two years remaining; $4,250,000 in 2014-2015, player option ($4,250,000) in 2015-2016
In a Nutshell
The first, and maybe only, year of the Jared Dudley saga in Los Angeles seemed like it would never end. After acquiring him from the Phoenix Suns in a three-team trade that saw the Clippers part with Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler, Jared Dudley seemed like he'd be an integral part of this team going forward. It's not every day you're able to land a small forward whose shooting profile is as vast and prolific as Jared Dudley's. Through his first six seasons in the NBA, Dudley shot 40.5% from beyond the arc. So there was upside there.
While battling a tough case of tendinitis in his right knee, Jared Dudley started the first 42 games of the season for the Los Angeles Clippers. During those 42 games, Jared Dudley averaged 8.7 points per game on 45% shooting overall and 37.9% shooting from three-point land. He also posted a True Shooting Percentage of 55.8% and an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 54.8%. So, he did provide some value as far as his shooting was concerned. At least early on.
However, Matt Barnes soon got into the starting lineup and Jared Dudley's run as a starter for the Los Angeles Clippers was over. He would miss a few games throughout the rest of the regular season as Doc Rivers merely didn't find minutes for him or would let him rest his knees. Over the final 40 games of the season for the team, Jared Dudley only played in 32 of them and saw his minutes decrease from 28.6 per game down to 16.5 per game. He did start one game in that stretch, though. And he did perform well by putting up 16 points on 6 of 10 shooting in a win over the Timberwolves in Minnesota. During the second part of the year, though, he only averaged 4.5 points per game on 41.0% shooting overall and 31.3% shooting from deep. His True Shooting Percentage and Effective Field Goal Percentage also dipped down to 50.1% and 48.5%, respectively.
In the playoffs, Dudley's minutes fell off even further as Doc Rivers ultimately shortened the bench rotation. He only played in seven playoff games, averaging 6.4 minutes per game, and never looked great. It was tough to tell if his knees were bothering him or if his confidence was just completely shot. He did have a few moments, though, which included him defending Kevin Durant moderately well and even sinking a couple threes here and there. Overall, Dudley went 3 of 11 from the field in the playoffs with all his makes coming from deep. There really was just not much use for Jared Dudley in the playoffs, if we're being honest about it.
While it would probably be easier to just say his only strength is his shooting and just leaving it there, that wouldn't be doing justice to Jared Dudley as a player. And while his shooting did drop off quite a bit this season, from his career marks of 47.3% overall and 40.5% from three, it is worth nothing that he was still a valuable shooter this year for the team. Dudley converted on 43.2% of his corner threes this season and on 50% of his 16-to-24 foot two-point jumpers. If you're counting just those two areas -- corner threes and those deep mid-range jumpers -- then Jared Dudley shot 98-of-208 (47.1%), with an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 56.3%, and showed his considerable worth.
One of the other noticeable strengths of Jared Dudley is his team defense and, yes, even his individual defense to some degree. Dudley isn't the quickest or most athletic guy, as I'm sure we all know, but he does his part on defense more often than not. He has some hiccups from time to time but generally does a solid of job of walling his man off on drives and forcing them into a semi-contested or even harshly contested jumper over his outstretched arms. What he lacks in quickness, he makes up for with surprisingly solid footwork and a chest that is able to absorb contact and push offensive players back.
As far as his team defense goes, Dudley's ability to wall guys off also allows him to funnel a ball-handler away from the baseline and back towards the middle of the floor where the shot-blocker is waiting. It's a real subtle thing that he does at times and can be useful, especially on a team that has a guy like DeAndre Jordan back there manning the paint. That doesn't mean he's a great defender but there are a multitude of little things that he does that can bother players throughout a game.
Lastly, he's a team guy and unselfish. Dudley really did sacrifice shots on this team, whether people choose to see it or not. That's why with every miss he had, it was almost like a punch to the gut. Among Clippers players who saw more than 20 minutes per game this season, Dudley had the lowest average of touches per game at 28.2. When filtering it out for Front Court Touches, Dudley's 21.2 was the second lowest mark among players who played more than 20 minutes per game. The only player lower was DeAndre Jordan (19.0). So, Dudley didn't see the ball nearly as much as he did in Phoenix and didn't shoot it as much but he never really complained. He was almost like Willie Green in that way.
As I mentioned with his strengths, Jared Dudley was great from two areas on the floor, corner threes and deep mid-range jumpers. However, he was utterly atrocious from everywhere else. He only shot 98-of-239 (41%) from everywhere else. And while a guy shooting 41% overall and having a 50% Effective Field Goal Percentage isn't terrible, it isn't great when you factor in that 136 of them were Above The Break three-point attempts and he made a paltry 31.7% of them. This is something that is cause for concern since he did shoot 38.5% on those same three-point attempts last season.
Another weakness of Dudley's is that despite his sometimes solid to good team defense and individual defense, he can get beaten pretty easily by guys who are far more athletic or paying more attention than him. Quite a bit, Jared Dudley would try to anticipate a pass to the short corner and then get beaten on a backdoor cut because he'd play it way too aggressive on the denial rather than sitting back and playing good fundamental defense. He wasn't the only one it happened to but it was extremely noticeable with him. Also, if you can out-athlete Dudley, which isn't too hard, you can get by him easily sometimes if he isn't able to get his chest into you. It led to some rotational help and open shots elsewhere on the court.
Rebounding is another issue for him. His Total Rebounding Rate has dipped every year, except for one, in his NBA career. It started out at 11.9% and then has gradually gone to 10.5%, 8.0%, 8.6%, 8.4%, 6.4%, and then all the way down to 5.1% this season. Some is due to the fact that in his first two years in the league, he saw some time at power forward. And some is due to him just not being that good of a rebounder anymore. Dudley, on quite a few occasions, loses track of his assignment and his guy will sneak in for rebounds or tip it out to a teammate. Dudley just isn't aggressive going for rebounds anymore and there is a concern there, and overall, that will be addressed in a minute. To get more playing time, Dudley needs to fix this problem on the glass. He needs the fire to compete and help the team in that department.
And, finally, passing is another big weakness from Jared Dudley. Some slack should probably be given to Dudley in this area since he's just primarily a shooter or 3-and-D guy but passing is kind of a big deal on this team since ball rotation is key. On several instances this season, Dudley would head fake his man in order to get the defender to fly by, which he would, and then drive into the lane. Instead of pulling up for a little floater, or even a mid-range jumper, Dudley would try to feed the ball down low on a bounce pass to one of the bigs. And, a lot of those times, the ball would get deflected by a hand or just go out of bounds. Dudley doesn't need to be a great passer but being a competent passer would be great. You have to know your personnel and teammates. Sometimes it didn't look like Jared Dudley did.
Future with the Clippers
There aren't many options to the Jared Dudley saga as far as his future goes. Option A is obviously just having Jared Dudley around for next season and seeing what happens. Who knows, he might even come out of training camp as the starting small forward again and be given a second chance by Doc Rivers to show the team and the fans what he has. As noted way above, he does hold some perceived value as a small forward than can knockdown shots and stretch defenses. Everyone knows that. But he has to show it on a consistent basis.
Option B, which is pretty much the only other option here, is the Clippers try to package Dudley in a deal to get a better player at the position or get a backup elsewhere. There are still going to be backup spots that need to be filled in the backcourt and front line so dealing a player like Dudley, combined with another player, might be enough to land a piece that's needed. Dudley's contract is solid enough, as far as length and money is concerned, that a team acquiring him won't feel bogged down by it. It's also just enough money on a per year basis to get a solid player through a sign-and-trade if you do indeed package Dudley with another player. So, trading him could happen if there's a buyer (or taker) out there.
The Clippers could go either one of those two ways. Personally, I think Jared Dudley is back next season. I don't think teams are clamoring to trade for him and I don't think Doc Rivers would want to give up on him just quite yet. There was obviously a reason that Doc Rivers, and company, traded for Jared Dudley and we saw glimpses of that early on in the season. If Dudley is able to come back next season and is not handicapped by anything else, then there's no reason to assume that he can't play like he did throughout the first 42 games of this past season.
This is where the concern will be addressed. There's no telling how much of this past season for Jared Dudley was the byproduct of dealing with knee tendinitis. While he did say that he was all better as the year went along, it's impossible to determine how much the aftereffects hampered him. We honestly have zero idea. That's the problem when looking back on Jared Dudley's inaugural season with the Los Angeles Clippers. Next season, with a full offseason at his disposal and knowing he'd have some continuity with the players and team, could and should be vastly different for him. Only time, and health, will tell.
GIF of the Year
Jared Dudley's three in OT versus Minnesota.