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Jared Dudley finally gets his chance in Brooklyn two years later

He was introduced to the media on Wednesday at HSS Training Center.

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Jared Dudley woke up on a regular Friday morning, checked his phone and saw a tweet from Adrian Wojnarowski saying that he was on the move. He called his agent and found out it was a trade to the Brooklyn Nets.

Sean Marks and the Nets pursued Dudley hard two years back, but it fell through as Phoenix came in at the last second and offered him a year and nearly $10 million more, according to reports at the time. But now, it’s come full circle and he explained, without hesitation, how playing for Kenny Atkinson and the coaching staff is what he’s most excited about along with the system and blue-collar identity they’ve built.

It was something he was looking forward to when he nearly signed the offer sheet a few years back.

“The cool thing for me is I’ve always wanted to live in New York, so to me I think it’s like coming full circle with Kenny Atkinson,” Dudley told reporters at HSS Training Center. “It’s one of the reasons why two years ago I thought about this place. It was for him, primarily, of his coaching style. Sometimes in life stuff comes back around.”

At 6’7”, Dudley is primarily going to be a stretch 4 – something the Nets desperately need for their system to be as efficient as they would like ... to thrive. While they lack stretch bigs, Dudley fills a void as a career 39.6 percent 3-point shooter. That’s the 15th best mark among active NBA players, just behind Allen Crabbe and Joe Harris. He feels Atkinson’s pace and space offense should be ideal for his skillset.

“High IQ, ball movement side-to-side, likes to shoot a lot of different threes but likes to put pressure on the offense with different stuff, or as you saw in Atlanta how their offense was,” he explained what he likes most about the offense.

“I would say his confidence,” he answered what he liked most about Atkinson. “I think that you could tell the way he talks he’s a New Yorker in a sense of his confidence. Not being bold, but his attitude toward trying to get better, the hard work. He seems to me a blue-collar guy, ‘put your hardhat on here, come and let’s work, let’s have fun and let’s get better.’”

He also discussed how, despite being traded four times over his career, this is the first time he’s sat down with both the general manager and head coach about playing stretch 4. He adds how this was the main plan when the Nets wanted him two years back.

“I would say this is the first time I’ve talked to the GM, the coach and other coaches about it. I think because of the excitement level we both had two years ago, the one thing I bring a little different than they’ve had here the last few years is someone with a high IQ that can stretch the floor at the 4 position.”

Indeed. It’s hard to determine how much time the 33-year-old Dudley will get especially on such a young team, but the Nets knew from the start that they needed to acquire a stretch big to come off the bench.

“You look at the way the NBA is going and has gone, the way teams are playing size-wise, the skill sets that are needed not only from a shooting guard but from across the board what the talent and skill set looking at 4’s and 5’s stretching the floor and the pacing of the game and everything else,” Marks said at the season-ending press conference.

His shooting will be needed, but the Nets are going to want to play the kids. He’s competing for time against guys like Jarrett Allen, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, DeMarre Carroll and Kenneth Faried. He’s accepted the fact that he’s going to be somebody who comes off the bench, so the Nets can play a certain style of ball.

This won’t be his only role, though. Dudley is an 11-year veteran and is currently the oldest player on the team. He’s played with fire his entire career and might be a good mentor for the young guys.

“I’m definitely excited not only to live in New York but the opportunity to play here and for me the opportunity to show that my last couple of years being a mentor and biting the bullet and letting guys play, now here there’s an opportunity to play.”

He mentioned D’Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen right off the bat and even called them the “cornerstones” of the Nets.

“You think about D’Angelo Russell and the talent he has being a lefty coming from the Lakers, everybody knows his scoring ability. I think for him, and I talked to him on the phone, is how you can make your teammates better. So for him, when I get here in a couple weeks I’d like to see how he leads.”

Dudley said this as Russell was in the back of the gym working on a stationary bike.

“I think Jarrett Allen – the potential for him where he’s a big that can move side-to-side, be able to block shots. I know he’s progressed over the last year and I think those two are the cornerstones and we all have to fall in place and play our roles around them.”

Then, of course, there’s going to be questions about playoffs. Dudley didn’t promise anything, but he also didn’t shy away. On Tuesday, Ed Davis told reporters that the Nets need to be the 2018-2019 version of the Indiana Pacers, a team that surprised the entire NBA.

On Wednesday, Dudley told a story about his one year in Milwaukee during the 2014-2015 season. Head coach Jason Kidd walked into the locker room, looked at a room filled with young players and told them, “If you don’t think we’re making the playoffs in this conference, let me know.” The Bucks went on to surprise the NBA and go from being a 15-win team to a .500 club that made the first round of the playoffs.

That’s the comparison he hopes the Nets can live up to, but also understands they have a lot of areas they need to improve on.

“So, does this team have the talent? Close enough. I think defensively we have to take the next step and offensively, shot selection. The Eastern Conference is open for a team to come and grab it, the question is which team is preparing and which team is healthy, but I definitely think it should be a goal.”

Sounds like a fit. He has one year on his contract and his two main goals are to help stretch the floor as a four and mentor the young guys.

Don’t get it mistaken, though. Dudley understands he needs to take a step back and let the young guys develop, but he has plenty to prove. He’s coming off a somewhat disappointing season in Phoenix where he averaged just 14.6 minutes per game.

With one year left on his contract, he needs to show he still has something left in the tank going forward. He told reporters how he’s lost 10 pounds since the end of this past season and would ideally like to lose another 10 to reach his goal of 235.

Furthermore, it sounds like another guy coming to Brooklyn with a chip-on-the-shoulder type attitude with a touch of moxie on the side.

“Sometimes it’s better to work to try to knock off the king than always to be the king. I’ve always been an underdog, so I can kind of relate to that,” said Dudley, now in his element on a team filled with underdogs.