Even though he doesn’t see much time on the court, there is arguably no player more popular amongst his Los Angeles Lakers teammates than Jared Dudley. The veteran forward garners amazing reactions any time he does something positive on the court and remains an important voice in the locker room.
This season was made even more difficult for Dudley due to a torn right MCL which kept him out of uniform for much of the year. Dudley will now hit free agency and though he has signed for just the minimum with the Lakers in each of the last two seasons, nothing is guaranteed.
Additionally, after 14 years in the NBA, no one could blame Dudley if he decided to move on from playing. But Dudley has no intentions of doing that and hopes to be back with the Lakers next season. “1,000%. Come on man, they need me,” Dudley said. “They need me like I need them. Come on.”
The response is classic Dudley as he has long been one of the most self-aware athletes around. He completely understands his role but thrives in it and that is what makes him such an important part of any team.
And Dudley undoubtedly wants to win another championship should he return to the Purple and Gold, but also saw one thing that needs to change in order for that to happen. “We have to raise our IQ. The IQ was not what it needed to be to be a championship contender,” Dudley noted. “One thing about Rondo, I love Rondo stubborn, great dude, one of the best basketball IQs. Someone like him and Bron, they cover up deficiencies, that’s just how it is.”
Dudley continued on about what he believed this version of the Lakers was lacking. “We had Rondo cover up a lot of other players’ flaws and weaknesses and help them cater to their strengths,” he added. “We had different other players like Dennis, who’s a great scorer. We have Montrezl Harrell, who’s a good scorer. We got specialists in different things, but our IQ was not as high as it needed to be to be a championship contender.”
Without a doubt, Rajon Rondo brought something to the Lakers that the team didn’t have this season, but there is still belief that the Lakers had a championship roster had health not been a factor. Dudley falls in line with that same point of view and thinks just some minor changes are needed.
“Coaches don’t need to call a play, it’s just IQ on the floor. When to give Bron the ball in his spot and that, that’s something that we just need to improve. What that being said, if Anthony Davis is healthy, we’re gonna be fine. This team just needs one or two tweaks, obviously we need a little shooting. Shooting was a concern of ours, we’re not gonna sugarcoat it, we shot the ball terrible. LeBron and AD need shooting and spacing and IQ. Those are two concerns that we have and are gonna address this offseason.”
Pelinka: shooting at ‘the top of our mind’ during offseason
One of the issues all season long for the Lakers was their shooting that was extremely inconsistent. Unfortunately, it was practically nonexistent in their playoff series loss to the Suns and that has led many to hope the team focuses on that this summer.
It sounds as if Lakers VP of basketball operations Rob Pelinka is of the same mindset.
“You can never have enough shooting so it’s something that’s always at the top of our mind when we’re building and constructing a roster. I think it’s important too, part of successful shooting is having special players that create the shooting space and for us, that comes primarily from LeBron and Anthony.”
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