"How I always feel is that the best people should play," Phoenix Suns veteran shooting guard Jared Dudley said when he came in to clear out his locker at the end of the season. "That doesn't mean that the best people should start because that's not how it is, but you should play the most minutes."

Whether Jared Dudley was in the starting lineup or not, his production was remarkably consistent. You knew what you were going to get when Duds hit the floor.


His production per minute was consistent no matter the role. So while Dudley would prefer to start games for the Suns, he is also the first to recognize that it doesn't matter who starts as long as the best player gets the most minutes. If the Suns draft Victor Oladipo or Ben McLemore or C.J. McCollum later this month, Dudley would most likely not be the starter. In fact, whoever the Suns draft would likely get more minutes than anyone got last season next to Goran Dragic, leaving even fewer for Dudley to play unless he shifted back to small forward.

But one thing is true: "Every time I was on the floor, we were a better team," Dudley said.

Check out Dudley's effect on the team per


"In the NBA, for the most part, you win with veterans," Dudley said.

As you can tell, the Suns most effective players were their veterans. But before you start pounding the table to keep and play Dudley, Gortat and Brown next season, remember that this particular veteran-laden lineup still only won 13 of their first 41 games.

Throughout the NBA, it's definitely true that veterans win more games than a lineup of kids. The Suns and Mavericks were the only "older" teams to miss the playoffs last season, while Houston and Golden State were the only young teams that found a way to win enough games to make it.

But that just goes to show that other teams have already figured out what it took the Suns too long to learn: don't play veterans if they don't take you deep into the playoffs.

Dudley, at 28 next season, fits into the mold of "older guard". If the Suns are playing him big minutes in 2013-14, it means they want to win as many games as possible. Yet, if that ceiling is 35 wins, is that worth it? Is it worth sacrificing the chance at a superstar draft pick in 2014 to win 5-10 more games because Dudley got the minutes?

Dudley recognizes the difference between a playoff team and a rebuilding team.

"When you're out of the playoffs you can do stuff like that," he said of his reduced minutes in the second half of the season. "And you should do it to see what your talent is, going into the off season."

But what if you start the season in rebuilding mode from day one, already out of playoff contention? Do you play your 28 year old veteran sixth man a lot of minutes to win a few more games? Or do you play the young guys to help them develop and shorten the down period?

For Dudley's part, he was waxing philosophical at the end of the season. Every veteran, to a man, suggested it was time for the Suns to rebuild. Even if that meant trading them to another team.

"For us, we have some veterans that would be good trade bait for more of a playoff type team," Dudley admitted, pointedly.

For his part, Dudley is all about team. He has made himself available on a weekly basis to KTAR this off season, offering his take on anything NBA related. When Jeff Hornacek was hired to coach the Suns, Dudley weighed in the way you knew Dudley would weigh in.

"Me and Jeff Hornacek we don't have the great physical abilities of someone else, but what I've seen from him, he was a hard worker as a player," said Dudley to KTAR/620 after Hornacek was hired. "I heard good things from different players in Utah about him being a shooting coach and everyone liking him. That's kind of my style: hard-working, team guy and guys liking me.

"I'm excited to get to work with him. Any time you bring in need blood and new energy it turns out pretty good."

Hornacek was brought in to herald the rebuilding era. New GM Ryan McDonough has targeted the wing positions as the most important to upgrade, as representative of the biggest hole on the team.

But Dudley still finds the positives.

"I definitely believe [this hire is good for me]," said Dudley. "Not only me but the team, because when you get into the team concept we all do well. When you see the Spurs -- and I hate to use the Spurs because that's our rival -- but that's a team. They're successful for a reason.

"Do they have stars? Yes. Are some of them aging? Yes, that happens. But from the role players, everyone has a job, everyone does their job."

Dudley knows the Suns fortunes are not going to turn around overnight. At least publicly, he is excited about the future with the Suns and wants to be part of the team.

But he might be past his prime before he sees the playoffs again, if he stay with the Suns. He's not quite old enough to want to be the player/coach who sacrifices his game for the betterment of the youth.

"In the NBA, there's nothing overnight," he says. "These Suns draft picks in the next two years can set up you up for the next four years."

He said to win a lot of games you need superstars, and the only way to get a young star through trade is to have enough young talent on the roster to entice the other team.

"If you look at now how people are getting these other stars," he said. "You've got to have young talent to go trade for those. You can get a Harden type, even though they gave up [veteran, expiring Kevin] Martin, they gave up picks [a 2013 lottery pick and 2012 lottery pick, Jeremy Lamb, along with other young pieces]. So if you want to get those guys you're gonna have to give up young assets that are talented that they see potential."

The Suns don't have a bevy of young talent that are teams are coveting. Kendall Marshall won't get you a star, and neither will the Morris brothers.

To get back to the NBA elite, the Suns need assets. The Suns need to stockpile enough young talent that (a) they can afford to trade without emptying the cupboard and (b) is talented enough to still entice the "buyer" into completing the trade.

Trading Jared Dudley for another first round pick in the 2013 Draft might just be the best way to return the Suns to the NBA's elite. The #5 pick needs to stay with the Suns as a building block. The #30 pick won't be good enough trade bait to garner a star. A pick right between those guys (or two picks, if Gortat is traded for the same reason), could add to the Suns tradeable stockpile.

If you can turn Dudley into a 19-21-year old that other teams see as a potential star - like Houston did with middle first-rounders last year - then maybe you trade Dudley to do it.

Otherwise, you keep Dudley to help coach and develop the younger guys bound to take his minutes from him. Would he even be happy in that role?

Should Jared Dudley stay a Phoenix Suns, or be traded if the Suns can get a first-round pick for him?

  497 votes | Results


This week on the podcast we pay homage to both Finals that are in full swing -- The NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup -- with guest host Paul "PLR" Richardson of the Sports Kave.

Paul has been embedded in Arizona sports for years, but hails from Chicago before he landed at the "Harvard of the West Coast," Arizona State University. The Sports Kave has a presence at Arizona Diamondbacks games, Arizona Cardinals games, Phoenix Suns games, and all other sporting events here in the Valley. Like a lot of the readers here on Bright Side, PLR is a big fan of the Suns targeting Shabazz Muhammad in this years draft. Take a listen to see why!

I am clearly not as clever as Jim, so here is the podcast: Episode 26

Check back next week as we vote whether or not Jim should come back or if the podcast should become a parody show in the ilk of: Kris & Company

Strengths Ben McLemore has the skill set to be a great scorer in the NBA. His best weapon is his picture-perfect jump shot. He has both a quick release and deep range. Combine those with his 42-inch...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

With the Suns sitting on the sidelines for this playoff season, we here at Bright Side of the Sun thought it would be fun to re-live our team's magical playoff run twenty years ago. While the HEAT and Spurs pushed their way to the 2013 Finals, the Phoenix Suns did the same in 1993.

The Western Conference Finals were epic, and are definitely the stuff of dreams in the Valley of the Sun. The HEAT have LeBron James while the Suns boasted their own MVP Charles Barkley.

Take a look at how Barkley closed out the Sonics in Game 7 to push the Suns to their second Finals in franchise history.

With an incredible display of MVP-dom, the Chuckster further solidified himself in Suns fans hearts. To this day, even casual NBA fans remember that playoff run with a smile.

For the Sonics, their leading scorer in Game 7 was none other than Eddie Johnson. Yes, THAT Eddie who sandwiched that Sonics stint around a Suns run with new coach Jeff Hornacek in the late 80s and a post-playing career in the Suns' organization now spanning nearly twenty years.

Johnson poured in 34 points off the bench for the Sonics, while new Suns assistant coach Mark West put up 11 points in 24 minutes of his own.

The Suns got the benefit of a lot of whistles in Game 7, making 57 of 64 free throws, including 15 of 15 in the fourth quarter alone.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Suns were headed to the Finals with crowd chanting, "Bring on da Bulls!"

**Special Note to "those guys": I realize that, back in 1993, the NBA Finals between the Suns and Bull had already started, with the Suns going down 0-2 at home. Coming this week will be recaps of those and the remaining epic games of those memorable FInals.


On June 27th, the day of the 2013 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns will have the luxury of choice. With two first round picks (#5 and #30), GM Ryan McDonough will be forced to make a decision on how to cash in those two assets. As Dave King has already covered, McDonough stated that he is unlikely to draft two first-round prospects who share the same position. However, both he and Coach Hornacek share a belief that there is plenty of talent to be had with the 30th pick in this draft.

When asked about the difference between drafting at #5 versus #30, McDonough had this to say:

"It’s a challenge (to find the diamond in the rough) but I enjoy it. I think there are more legitimate options in terms of going in a number of different ways. That’s where the good teams pick, in the 20s and 30s every year, the playoff teams that have sustained their levels. There are good players there but obviously there aren’t as many as there are available at #5."

As a draft expert in Boston, McDonough had plenty of experience picking late in the draft and can hang his hat on several gems: Tony Allen in 2004 (25th), Rajon Rondo in 2006 (22nd), and Avery Bradley in 2010 (19th). He undoubtedly relishes the challenge of finding a quality prospect late in the first round and believes there is plenty of talent to be had with the 30th pick,

Coach Hornacek shares similar thoughts on the value of the late first rounder. He remarked that he could envision several of the prospects that have worked out for the Suns (those projected to go in that range) having a role on his Suns team.

"Obviously you have veteran guys but if you find that guy in the #30 range, and I don’t even discount #57, I was #46. So if you find that guy that’s willing to battle and push through the veteran guys, they might turn out to be better. You never know."

"I don’t even discount #57, I was #46." -Jeff Hornacek

It makes perfect sense that Hornacek understands the value of a late pick. As he states, he himself was a second round pick who went on to have a stellar career. He knows that the later picks can go a long way in bringing in players that are willing to put in the effort to try and earn a spot in his rotation (something he himself went through in his first year in the league as an unheralded prospect).

Over the course of the last week, the Suns have had seven workouts and have brought in nearly 50 prospects to examine. Although they haven't worked out many big men projected to go in the 30th range (interestingly, most of the bigs the Suns have brought in are expected to go either earlier or later), many of the prospects who have visited US Airways Center are wings that are expected to go somewhere in the range of the Suns' #30 pick, such as Archie Goodwin, Tony Snell, and Ricky Ledo.

Whereas Snell is a relatively NBA-ready player with skills to contribute to the team immediately, Goodwin and Ledo are viewed as longer-term projects, making them riskier options than others. However, McDonough acknowledged that he is open to taking a risk with the #30 pick and remarked that the team itself is in a position to be considering such low-risk, high-reward investments:

"I feel like if you’re right there at a championship level and you need one more guy to put you over the hump, then it probably makes sense to draft a more veteran guy who can come in and play right away. Where we are, we obviously need to build this. So if there’s a guy you think could be a good starter someday, even if he's 18 or 19, that might be a risk you have to take."

"So if there’s a guy you think could be a good starter someday, even if he's 18 or 19, that might be a risk you have to take." -Ryan McDonough

McDonough rightfully points out that at risky proposition of drafting a longer-term project with obvious talent, such as Goodwin or Ledo, is something that the team shouldn't be and isn't afraid to undertake. He spoke extensively on Ledo in particular, who enters the draft with a great deal of talent but many questions about his game and off-court problems (he didn't play a single game at Providence due to academic ineligibility):

"I went and watched Ricky at practice in Providence as well as in high school. He really shoots the ball well. He’s just a natural scorer and has been his whole life. I think he shot the best in the drills today from the NBA three point line. The challenge is the rest of the game, especially not having played this year. He’s never guarded guys with his size and strength and athleticism, other than at AAU or whatever. He’s got a little ways to go defensively and in play-making but obviously there’s a lot of potential. Scoring remains his strength and he’s primarily still a scorer but he can also find guys and get other guys open and is developing his point guard skills, which at his size is obviously a plus."

All in all, both coach and GM have examined many prospects during this last week and they know there is plenty of talent to be had at various points in the draft. The Suns see definite value at the 30th spot in the draft - now it's up to them to make sure they cash in.

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