Brooklyn Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie Wants to Get His Mojo Back
The Nets guard knows his teammates and coaches need him at his best to win games
LOS ANGELES – There is no way to sugarcoat it: Spencer Dinwiddie hasn’t looked the same since the Nets changed their starting five on Feb. 22.
In order for the Brooklyn to end its current three-game slide, it needs its 24-year-old to return to the confident player he was before the All-Star break.
“Like I tell Spence — and I tell it to his face — we need him to be the same Spence he was when D’Angelo was out of the lineup,” DeMarre Carroll explained on Saturday. “Now he’s back, we still need you to be that Spence that you were before.
Carroll added, “That Spence was helping our team win a lot of games, so it’s not stepping on toes. It’s just he needs to play the way he’s been playing.
“That’s why all of y’all have grown to love Spence, because of the way he’s been playing, attacking the goal, playing with a chip on his shoulder. He’s just got to get back to that Spence, playing like he’s got a chip on his shoulder.”
With Jeremy Lin suffering a season-ending injury in the first game of the season and D’Angelo Russell missing 32 games, Dinwiddie, originally expected to the Nets’ backup guard, catapulted himself to a breakout campaign. He currently leads the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio and averaged 14.9 points, 6.2 assists and 3.7 rebounds during the month of January. His impressive earned him recognition from the league as he was invited to the Taco Skills Challenge, which he won in dramatic fashion. Still, since the lineup change after All-Star Weekend, Dinwiddie has struggled.
Over the last five games, Dinwiddie is averaging a strong 8.8 assists, but his scoring has dipped – scoring just 8.4 points per game on 33 percent shooting (13 percent from downtown). When told of Carroll’s comments on Saturday, Dinwiddie smiled. After all, just a year ago, he was a G Leaguer trying to stick on an NBA roster. Now, there are expectations that he’s set and has to live up to.
“I’ll choose to take that as a complement,” Dinwiddie said. “I’ll try to pick up my intensity, focus and effort – all of that. Other than that, I’m still the same person sitting right here.”
Dinwiddie added, “I didn’t go to All-Star break and suddenly lose my powers. When they got hurt [Russell and Lin], I didn’t all of the sudden gain my powers. I’m still the same guy, we’re just going to try to figure it out. “
Dinwiddie admitted that he has been adjusting to the new starting lineup, but also pointed out that the return of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert has meant everyone on team is getting used to a new rotation to an extent. Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson acknowledged that point, yet he also believes that there’s plenty of potential in the Russell and Dinwiddie pairing. He wants both to be more assertive on the court.
“Somehow they have to find that balance,” Atkinson said. “I wish it was super simple, but it’s not super simple. I like their chemistry in the sense of trying to work it out, on the other hand, they also have to play their game.
“I think it can work because I love having those two different type of ball handlers out there – a downhill guy and a guy who that’s going to spray it around a little more. It’s just going to take a little more time.”
Against the Clippers, Dinwiddie’s shooting struggles continued – going for 0-for-6 – but it was encouraging to see him attacking the basket more than he did against the Kings as evidenced by six free throw attempts and 10 assists. And Dinwiddie is determined to improve his percentages on the floor as well.
“Obviously, I didn’t hit a shot tonight, I have to do better,” he said after the 123-120 loss. "It’s been a trending over the last 10 games. Everything is still a work in a progress.”
Considering the well-documented challenges that Dinwiddie has previously faced in his career, his track record suggests that he will.
“I’m motivated for every single game,” he said on Saturday. “I still have a lot to prove in this league.”