Preface: This Dudley talk (as of 4:15 AM EST on Saturday, Feb 9) is purely speculative. There is no proposed trade on the table that we know of and the intentions of both the Knicks and Suns are unknown. Everything written below pertaining to any sort of trade would be purely speculative.
Phoenix Suns small forward Jared Dudley would absolutely help New York’s chances of dethroning Miami in the Eastern Conference. He’d fit in nicely to the starting lineup at the three spot alongside Jason Kidd and Carmelo Anthony. At 6’7 Dudley is a pure three and a legitimate knock down shooter. He is shooting 39.1% from downtown this season, with an eFG% of 56.1% and a TS% of 59.5%. To put that in perspective, Steve Novak shoots 44.1% from downtown, with an eFG% of 59.7% and a TS% of 61%. Dudley is not Steve Novak shooting the ball, but he’s not much worse and he is more complete in every other facet of the game. Dudley is not great defensively, but he is not a complete liability either. As we can see from Dudley’s shot chart, he is a much more complete offensive player than Novak. He can shoot the mid-range and get to the rim with efficiency in addition to his elite three point shooting.
In order to bring Dudley from the Phoenix desert to the bright lights of New York City, the Knicks would like have to part ways with the man who currently plays that three spot alongside Kidd and Anthony; Iman Shumpert. Shumpert is a fan favorite, me included, but I would seriously entertain the idea of trading him if I were running the Knicks. While his long term outlook and upside are far higher than Dudley’s, the Knicks are absolutely in “win now” mode. Starting with Ronnie Brewer, then James White and now Shumpert, the Knicks have struggled to find a permanent fit at that three spot. Shumpert’s real value comes as an elite on-ball defender, but here is where things get interesting for the Knicks.
It is no secret to anyone who has watched a Knick game this year that New York cannot defend point guards. Opposing point guards have been playing MVP caliber basketball against the Knicks all year, mainly due to the fact that they’ve been ‘defended’ by a trio of average to below average on-ball defenders in Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni. When Shumpert came back, it was anticipated that he’d fill this defensive void for the Knicks. Woodson could cross match Felton on a lesser offensive wing player while Shumpert disrupted the opposition’s trigger man. That hasn’t been the case. Woodson has continued to have Felton and the other point guards defend their counterparts. Shumpert has been relegated to chasing opponents through screens off the ball, not his strong suit. And for whatever reason, Woodson implied recently to the media that he will continue to play Shumpert off the ball and that he wants his point guards to improve defensively. Maybe Shumpert isn’t fully healthy or lacking confidence, I don’t know, but it seems like this defensive philosophy will be used moving forward.
If the Knicks aren’t going to use Shumpert to disrupt opposing point guards, his value vastly decreases. In Shumpert’s eleven games played, New York’s defensive efficiency of 101.3 is slightly better than their season average, but is just 12th best in the league over that span of games. That figure is even less impressive when you take into account the relative ease of the Knicks schedule over those eleven games. While Shumpert has shot the three effectively in small sample size, he isn’t finding a rhythm in the offense. His TS% is just 44% while his eFG% is at just 43.3%. Last night in Minnesota, Shumpert looked lost and played just 12 scoreless minutes.
Say Phoenix were to offer the Knicks Dudley and a first round pick in addition for Shumpert and say Kurt Thomas and Chris Copeland (the money has to match), I believe the Knicks would have to seriously consider pulling the trigger.
Nobody disagrees that Shumpert is going to have a bright future and a long career in the league. He can be a Tony Allen level defender while being a much better offensive player. That being said, this New York team is one of the oldest in the league. Tyson Chandler, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire came to New York to win a championship and this year might be their best chance to do so. New York is absolutely in a “win now” mode. Bringing in Jared Dudley would improve the Knicks chances in the playoffs.
Were I to be a betting man, I wouldn’t put money on New York making a trade. While the Knicks have holes, they sit at 32-16 and don’t seem desperate to pursue moves. Because Shumpert is returning off a serious injury, it is entirely possible the Knicks are bringing him along slowly and will thrust him into a more challenging defensive role later in the year. Only Mike Woodson knows the answer to that inquiry. Would I make this trade? I’ll say this; I’m happy I don’t have to decide. I’m not one for trading a wing defender of Shumpert’s prowess for more offense and more shooting on an already elite offensive team that ranks 5th in three point shooting. However, if the Knicks aren’t going to use Shumpert to guard opposing point guards, it may be worth it for them to acquire Dudley in hopes of making a title run this season.
All statistics via NBA.com
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