Although the restrictions placed in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic provided its own set of challenges for the Los Angeles Lakers during the quarantine period, it appears maintaining the team’s rapport was not one of them thanks to the efforts of Jared Dudley.
He has thrived in mentorship role during the season and that contributed to the Lakers developing strong team chemistry during a tough year for the franchise both on and off the court.
The veteran recently received high praise from Alex Caruso for keeping the team connected alongside LeBron James during the hiatus.
Dudley’s presence as an outspoken leader in the locker room clearly paid huge dividends for Los Angeles while they prepared to finish the season in a bubble environment at the Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
While the NBA has undergone some drastic changes during his time in the league, Dudley embraced his ability to communicate with every player on the roster from top to bottom no matter the platform.
“It was the group chat, just because the millennials now are text messaging everyone. That’s why I got Instagram, so I could keep in contact and see what everyone is doing. For me it was nothing different,” Dudley explained.
“I think my natural personality is an outgoing, communication guy. Talking about what’s going on, people’s beards, Kuz doing a fashion show in his house because he’s bored and getting a dog. There was so much going on.
“And then there’s a time when you start tightening it up, start getting serious to finish the season, keeping everybody in tuned workout-wise and staying locked in. LeBron is obviously a leader and A.D. leads in his own way.
“I would say I’m a little more vocal in talking to one through 15. That’s my job. I’ve been in this league for a while and mentored a lot of young players in Booker, John Wall and Giannis. I’m one of the rare vets that can speak to one through 15, because I’ve played with guys like Shaq and those who are DNP. I’ve been through it all.”
Despite their status as leaders, the focus for James and Anthony Davis was to justify the championship expectations that came with their pairing heading into the season while the rest of the team got up to speed. Dudley put the onus on himself to help make it come to fruition by taking talented, young players like Caruso and Kyle Kuzma under his wing from the start.
Lakers depth in Orlando
Dudley has yet to appear in either of the Lakers’ first two seeding games, but he figures to see action in the NBA restart before it’s all said and done. Head coach Frank Vogel has regularly emphasized keeping all players involved and prepared for potential roles in the playoffs.
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