For as valuable as Jared Dudley always seems to be for the teams that employ him, it’s a bit surprising that he’s moved around so much over the course of the last four seasons. After four strong years in Phoenix, he looked like the kind of player that ends up playing for a single team for the bulk of his career, but that’s not how it worked out. In his three seasons since leaving the Suns, he’s donned three different uniforms.
Despite all the shifting around, Dudley has felt comfortable his last two seasons with Milwaukee and now Washington. Continuity, though, is something he feels like he needs to be the best possible version of himself.
“I’m a rhythm player,” Dudley told Basketball Insiders. “My game revolves around system, team, unselfishness. Obviously I’ve had to be healthy, though, and continue to adjust to playing a new position at power forward this year and last year. I had a great situation in Milwaukee, but I had to go between being a starter and a bench player back and forth.”
This season, he’s playing more minutes than he has since Phoenix, and he thinks that the extra playing time is having a positive effect on his offensive output, which also matches where he was at with the Suns.
“I shoot the ball better when I play more,” Dudley said. “When you get more touches, you don’t feel like you have to take as many quick shots. You can choose your spots, and of course it helps when you’re playing with an All-Star point guard like John (Wall). I haven’t had that since CP3 and [Steve] Nash, so it’s a perfect fit with this team.”
Last year in Milwaukee, Dudley had to serve as the proverbial “veteran presence in the locker room” for a young team trying to find itself. This season, though, he feels like the team is loaded with the kind of experience that could make them dangerous down the stretch, assuming everybody stays healthy.
“Gary Neal brings a lot of experience from the Spurs, and Alan Anderson also played last year in the playoffs. Our team, when healthy, is as deep and versatile as any team, and that’s something we didn’t have for a big stretch this season,” Dudley said. “In the playoffs, you’ve got to be versatile to deal with different matchups and different styles. We’re deep, so Coach [Randy Wittman] is going to have some fun figuring everything out, but that just means he’ll get to play a lot of different players and a lot of different lineups.”
The playoffs are still a few months away, and the struggling Wizards are nowhere near a sure thing to make it there, but even assuming they do get in and have the sort of successful run they did last year, there’s still no guarantee that Dudley will be back next season. His contract expires at the end of the year, meaning he could end up in a new uniform all over again next season.
However that plays out, Dudley has learned to live his life with an eye toward the future as well as toward the present, and that’s about everything, not just the basketball.
“I’ve now come to the realization that you’ve got to rent instead of buying a home,” Dudley joked. “I don’t know where I’ll be 15 years from now. I don’t know what my job is going to be, but I’ve got time, and I’m happy where I am for now.”
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