From the outside looking in, Jared Dudley didn't know what to make of John Wall before beginning his first season with the Wizards. Thirty-one games in, he now knows he belongs in elite company after he uttered "Steve Nash" following Wall's eighth consecutive double-double -- 14th since Dec. 1.
"I think that when he plays with energy and passion on the defensive end and offensive end, it takes our team to a whole other level. Obviously that's easier said than done. But with John, when he's attacking, even when he's not scoring, he sets up everyone," said Dudley, in his ninth season after spending four with Nash with the Phoenix Suns and one with Chris Paul and the L.A. Clippers. "The last person to do that for me was Steve Nash. He's similar in that way but he's so much more athletic and explosive that he puts so much pressure on you."
Wall had game-highs of 24 points and 13 assists on Friday. Dudley, who is shooting a career-high 46.7% from three-point range, only made 1 of 5 from deep. But what's surprising is that even with his accuracy (No. 4 in NBA), Dudley continues to get wide-open look after wide-open look even without Bradley Beal not on the floor.
The reason? Wall. His dribble penetration causes so much havoc that defenses sink in to absorb it and when the ball is kicked out its easier for shooters. That's why Wall was given a max deal when the Wizards were a 29-win team a few seasons ago. The Wizards saw that he made everyone around him better (see stats in contract years for Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster), and every metric proved it. They just had to put better pieces around him to get better results.
For his career, Dudley shoots 40% from three. He's now starting as the Wizards' stretch power forward. The pick-and-roll action with Wall and between Wall and Marcin Gortat is creating space all over.
"Running pick-and-rolls, most teams don't want to switch their four on me," said Wall, who is second in the NBA in assists at 9.9 per game. "So they're trying to (double me). We run pick-and-roll with March also. They're helping. That leaves Dud wide open and he's able to knock down shots."