Jared Dudley Breaks Down the Suns' Defensive Troubles
While the team's offensive numbers have plummeted from its best-in-class effort of last year, Jared Dudley talked extensively about the problems on defense, and the specifics of what needs to change if Phoenix as a unit hopes to slow teams down this season.
"You talk about being a good defensive team, but it's about putting it out there," Dudley said, after the Nuggets' reserves put 144 points on the board. "I think that everyone needs to look at the scouting reports a little bit more thoroughly and just keep getting better.
"You can't just talk about being a good defensive team, you've got to practice it. And when you're on the court, you have to know your assignments and know what to do. And we didn't do that [on Friday]."
In addition to the gaudy total, Denver also managed to drop a 49-spot in the second quarter alone. Dudley was on the court for almost 10 of the 12 minutes in that period, so he saw first-hand the things that were going wrong on the defensive end for the Suns.
"Defensive philosophy, I don't care where it's taught, it's the same thing everywhere," Dudley said. "When you're [guarding] your man on the wing, you can't let him drive middle. When they drive past you baseline, the bottom right defender has to come and block off the baseline.
"This team tends to have bad habits, and we've got to knock those off."
And those bad habits are?
"Letting your man drive middle, too much dribble penetration," Dudley said. "On our pick-and-roll coverages, it's knowing the rotations. I think sometimes when an offensive player drives past you, we're having two people help instead of one. That one person helps, and that other person takes away that first pass. That's what we have to do."
Dudley went on to say where the help needed to come from. And while being careful not to call anyone out individually, he pointed to the team's big men as the area that he'd like to see improve the most.
"The key to any good defensive team, when you look at any of the good ones -- the Spurs, the Celtics -- it's the big men and how they do their talking. The bigs basically run the defense. They tell everyone where to go, they're the last line of defense, and we need our bigs to start helping us, basically start stepping up and being the leaders on the defensive side.
When asked if the team's starting center, Robin Lopez, was to blame for not talking on defense, Dudley stayed with the team approach.
"I just think it's more about communication. [Steve Nash] can't see basically when screen and rolls are coming, and when people drive, Robin's got to be there. And I'm not saying it's got to be one person, it's got to be a team effort."
The Suns are a veteran team, but one largely filled with quiet leaders, and Lopez is among the quietest guys on the roster. Dudley realizes this, but at the same time, he also realizes that guys simply have to communicate if the team is to get better defensively.
"This team has a lot of soft-spoken people; everyone's quiet. We can't be quiet out there on defense and be good."