Best Hard Worker in Valley Sports - 2012
Jared Dudley, Phoenix Suns
What Jared Dudley does for the Phoenix Suns doesn't show up on the stat sheet. Dudley will never be a Hall of Famer, but he's essential to Coach Alvin Gentry's squad if it has any hope of pulling itself up by its sneaker strings to mediocrity this season. To say the Suns are in a rebuilding mode is like saying New Orleans was in a rebuilding mode after Hurricane Katrina. With the recent departures of Steve Nash and Grant Hill, we've barely heard of most of the roster. But the smiley Dudley is back for his third full season, having come over in a trade from the Charlotte Bobcats with Jason Richardson. Though Dudley was considered just the other guy in the trade, his on-court hustle off the bench made him vital to the Suns' offensive plan, and Richardson was traded away. And it's not that he's only a tenacious defender; Dudley can score and rebound. He just can't jump very high for a guy who's 6-feet-7; he rarely dunks. (He was a fat kid who slimmed down and made it to the millionaire world of NBA millionaires — the guy's an inspiration to us all.) Last season, J-Dud averaged 13 points and five rebounds a game in an average of just 31 minutes of playing time. The forward's an upbeat journeyman who'll be a locker-room leader this season with that host of young players. And he's a lock to be one of a couple of bright spots we'll enjoy watching as the Suns predictably blow.