As basketball instruction goes, this is the equivalent of a parent telling his kid to eat more Snickers bars.
Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown wants Jared Dudley to shoot more. Of all the things Dudley must do while filling in as the starting power forward, this sounds like the most fun.
It's also necessary: Opponents tend to double-team off Dudley, allowing their power forward to help defensively in the lane. The only way to stop that is Dudley taking and making open jump shots.
“He says that all the time,” Dudley recalled of Brown urging him to shoot. “All the (power forwards) are laying off, making me the person who is wide open.
“It's not like I mind shooting. People say, if you have the green light, then shoot every time. But realistically I don't: When you're the fourth or fifth option (among the starters), you don't have a green light; I don't care what anyone tells you.”
Dudley inherited this starting spot one game into the season, after the Bobcats decided to deactivate Sean May over conditioning issues. It's a bit of a reach – at 6-foot-7, Dudley is one of the NBA's smallest starting power forwards – but he's smart and rugged enough to get by.
Like Dudley said, he's logically the last or second-to-last starter you'd pick to take a big shot. But for all the disadvantages involved in starting a small forward at the power position, Dudley has a significant advantage if he exploits it:
The Chris Boshes and Ben Wallaces of the leaguedon't want to chase him out 20 feet from the basket. So the more Dudley demonstrates a dependable jump shot, the more uncomfortable he can make the man guarding him.
“I'm just trying to pick my spots,” said Dudley, who's averaging seven shots as a starter. “My key (to shoot) is more toward late in the shot clock than early in the shot clock.”
That's where the Brown ethos comes in; he always wants his players probing the defense rather than just settling for whatever shot is there. But Dudley tends to go overboard exercising that principle.
“We need him to shoot open shots a little bit more. He's so unselfish,” Brown said.
“It's a little bit unfair to ask a 6-6 or 6-7 kid keep going up against a Chris Bosh or Jermaine O'Neal. But that's what we've got to do. That's who we are.”