When Jared Dudley was included in the deal that brought J.J. Redick to the Los Angeles Clippers last July, I thought that he would provide solid shooting off of the bench. Surely a guy with his slow feet and poor defensive reaction speed wasn’t going to start ahead of pitbull Matt Barnes, right? Unfortunately, it took Doc Rivers 42 games to reach that same conclusion. Once Dudley’s shooting started to dip, it unmasked all of the other deficiencies he has on the basketball court. Dudley is just not a starting small forward on a team with championship aspirations. In fact, I’ll take it one step further — JD should not be playing small forward, PERIOD.
As the Clippers stand today, Hedo Turkoglu is Blake Griffin‘s primary backup at power forward. The Turk is a former small forward now playing the 4-spot in his NBA twilight. Antawn Jamison, the recently traded Clipper, made a similar career move years ago. I think it’s time Rivers have that talk with Dudley.
From Mike D’Antoni to Mike Woodson, the era of the ‘Space Four’ is upon us. Teams religiously play guys at PF who can play pick-n-pop and stretch the defense with their shooting. Rebounding has become an afterthought at a once-rugged position (blame position-less coach Erik Spoelstra). Marvin Williams, Omri Casspi, Shawne Williams — the list goes on and on. Average small forwards are redefining their careers as perimeter shooting “power” forwards.
Playing Dudley behind Griffin at the 4-spot would get the best out of his abilities while also masking his weaknesses. In fact, Dudley has shown that he is a pretty good defender on the low block. For all of his perimeter woes, he does know how to use every inch of his 6-foot-8 frame against physical scorers inside. With the way DeAndre Jordan is rebounding these days, I don’t think Dudley’s weak rebounding will be a problem, either.
Big Baby or no Big Baby, Rivers should move Dudley to power forward. It will not only extend Dudley’s career, but maybe the Clippers’ season as well.