I was reading an interesting article posted on SunsDynasty.com (now my third favorite site for Suns info after this one and Valley of the Suns blog) about Jared Dudley and it got me thinking about the interesting dynamic between superstar and "roleplayer" that all good teams have. Check it out!
Ok let me first start out saying that I was a part of the conversation a few months back over the use of certain sports phrases that are overused. I am aware that "roleplayer" was on Rosewood's list and that he is probably right in his analysis of it. However, for lack of a better term and since it is such an easy one to use, I will use it here. Perhaps this will spark a conversation about whether "roleplayers" (which I will now refer to as "Junkyard Dogs") actually exist or not. We will see!
So J-Dud is quickly becoming one of my favorite players in a Suns unifrom and it is fairly obvious why. The guy is a hard worker, smart player, and most importantly doesn't think too highly of himself. According to the Boivin Dudley does not have the skill for a draft pick but has the heart. The guy came back early from his summer training because he wanted to practice with Nash and Hill. More importantly, thought, is that he saw this not only as an opportunity to better himself and his skill set, but becasue he saw this as an opportunity to make the team better.This, I think, epitomizes the idea of a "Junkyard Dog".
Probably the only thing that I have envied about the Spurs (I hate the Spurs by the way) over the last few years is the fact that they had so many players that could come out and do the job. Whatever job that was, they could come out and do it. Often it wasn't scoring, in fact usually it wasn't. More often than not is was some sort of defensive assignment. After watching them a bit and comparing their team (not their play style) to the Suns (especially under Dantoni) I realized that part of the problem our team had was a limited number of useful players. We always some kind of major event that caused us to lose (e.g. STAT/Diaw suspension; STAT hurt; Johnson hurt; Nash hurt; foul trouble).
The importance of "Junkyard Dogs"on the Suns team cannot go overlooked. I am not trying to degrade anyones play. I appreciate Dudley, Lou, Clark, Dragic, and anyone else who puts in quality minutes for us. The point is, "Junkyard Dogs" have the ability to take a significant amount of pressure off superstars and provide minutes and support that is needed. The Suns should not take the importance of Dudley lightly. His efforts on the court no only frustrate opponents but can give us a significant upside during the Nash/STAT rest period. These are guys that not only care about the welfare of the team, but are excited about playing for and with a group of guys. Dudley is a great example of such a player. He will never be a superstar. He might, if he is lucky, average 13/7 and I would be ecstatic about that. But all the intangibles will be more important. He will work hard for every rebound, steal and point; he will dog his opposing player with relentless defence; he will impact the highs and lows of the team with his attitude.
I think we as fans should be really excited about players like Dudley and push to keep them on the team at all costs. Guys like him are just as rare, if not more, than superstars. Lets not forget that as we move into the season and trade ideas start popping up. If anything, we need MORE "Junkyard Dogs" not less.