Dudley ready to accept leadership role with Suns

Arizona Sports News online

Coaches, teammates, fans, and media can’t help but like Jared Dudley.

The Phoenix Suns forward can usually be found on the bench or in the locker room joking or clowning on teammates.However, on the court, it’s all business for the versatile 6’7, 225-pounder who has improved his scoring average over the last four seasons and averaged a career-high 12.7 points per game in 2011-12.

As the Suns open training camp in southern California this week, Dudley’s role on and off the court shifts as the team ushers in a new era after trading Steve Nash to the Lakers and having steady veteran Grant Hill join the Clippers via free-agency over the summer.

“[We] have a lot of new guys and we have to have a voice,” Dudley told Pros2Preps.com Wednesday afternoon following practice in San Diego. “For the most part you have guys who are looking for a guy to lead and I want to take that role on. You have to have [somebody] set the tone and that’s going to be me. For me it’s setting the tone for how we want this organization to act on and off the court.”

Most experts believed even before Channing Frye was ruled out for the entire season with an enlarged heart, Phoenix was a fringe playoff team at best in the loaded Western Conference.

Dudley said the new-look roster has the potential to surprise some people.

“I’m seeing guys that are picking up the offense good,” he explained to Pros2Preps.com. “We’re putting in different sets. It’s not going to be the same Phoenix Suns offense. There will be some similarities, but a lot of difference. I see different ways we can score. Guys like [Michael] Beasley who can create his own shot. [Luis] Scola who’s a great system player. This team has talent, but you have to [develop] chemistry and you have to play hard if you want to get to the playoffs.”

Two-thirds of the players listed on the official training camp roster are new from a season ago (12 of the 18).

The Suns open exhibition play October 10 in Sacramento against the Kings.

The regular season opener is Halloween night against the Golden State Warriors at U.S. Airways Center.

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