Brooklyn Nets: Jared Dudley an outstanding candidate for Twyman-Stokes Award

Brooklyn Nets Jared Dudley D'Angelo Russell. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Jared Dudley D'Angelo Russell. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Jared Dudley of the Brooklyn Nets was named Monday as 1 of 12 finalists for the NBA’s Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award and would be a great choice.

Jared Dudley came to the Brooklyn Nets as a salary dump, acquired in a trade from the Phoenix Suns last July that also yielded a 2021 second-round pick in exchange for Darrell Arthur.

Dudley spent last season buried at the end of the Suns’ bench and was traded after he balked at a buyout. He believed he could still contribute.

He hit the ground running when he was acquired by Brooklyn, setting the tone for what has been a season of great growth and improvement for the Nets.

Dudley has been at the epicenter of that development and on Monday was named one of the 12 finalists for the 2018-19 Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award. Last year’s winner, Jamal Crawford — now with the Suns — made the announcement.

The other finalists include a former Net, Thaddeus Young of the Indiana Pacers, as well as Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies, Channing Frye of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Rudy Gay of the San Antonio Spurs, Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat, Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors, Kyle Korver of the Utah Jazz, Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks, J.J. Redick of the Philadelphia 76ers and Garrett Temple of the LA Clippers.

The award was instituted in 2012-13, with other past winners including Chauncey Billups, Shane Battier, Tim Duncan, former Net Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki and Crawford.

Per, the award:

"… recognizes the player deemed the best teammate based on selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players and commitment and dedication to team."

Dudley has certainly embodied all of that. Shortly after he was acquired by the Nets, he reached out to young point guard D’Angelo Russell, challenging Russell to be a leader and to make his teammates better.

Russell has responded this season with the best year of his career, including earning his first All-Star selection.

Coach Kenny Atkinson has had high praise for the Nets’ oldest player all season long.

Dudley began the season as a starter, was moved to a bench role and then had his minutes disappear as Atkinson juggled the rotation.

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Dudley never changed his approach and was one of the five players who helped drive the biggest comeback in franchise history last month, when the Nets recovered from being down 28 with 13:31 to play to the Sacramento Kings to get an almost unfathomable victory.

Dudley told the New York Post‘s Brian Lewis afterward that it was a matter of mindset for him and rather than pout about a lack of playing time, Dudley took over a leadership role among the guys on the reserve units.

"“That’s why you’ve got to have vets on the team, just to be professional. I haven’t played in over a month, consistent minutes. So you can whine, but coming in early, after games, getting cardio in, once you get your opportunity what do you do with it? That’s our job.“Our job as vets and role players is when you get your opportunity make the coach realize what he’s missing out there.”"

The award is named for former Cincinnati Royals teammates Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes. When Stokes, a young star on the rise, was permanently paralyzed in the wake of a fall during a game in 1958, the Royals, now the Sacramento Kings, released Stokes and the disabled player — long before there were things such as pensions and medical coverage for retired players — was left to contend with enormous medical costs.

Twyman, an All-Star for the Royals, stepped into the void for the long term, becoming Stokes’ legal guardian and undertaking all sorts of fundraising work to care for Stokes. In an era when most players had offseason jobs, Twyman used his role in the insurance industry to successfully sue the state of Ohio to gain workman’s compensation benefits for Stokes, as well.

Stokes died in 1970 at the age of 36 and was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004, with Twyman inducting his friend and former teammate. Twyman, as always, deflected the praise in his induction speech.

Twyman went into the Hall himself in 1983 after an 11-year career that included two All-NBA selections and career averages of 19.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game for a Royals team that was overshadowed by the Boston Celtics dynasty for much of Twyman’s career.

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Twyman died in 2012 at the age of 78.