Brooklyn Nets Season Review: Spencer Dinwiddie
A breakout season for point guard who seized his opportunity
The emergence of Spencer Dinwiddie was intriguing enough to make the Nets guard one of the NBA’s better stories of the 2017-18 season. Injuries to Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell elevated Dinwiddie to a starting role less than three weeks into the season, and less than a year since he was toiling in the G League. It would be an understatement to say Dinwiddie seized the opportunity.
He ended up averaging 13.8 points and 7.2 assists in 58 starts and 12.6 points and 6.6 assists overall. With just 1.6 turnovers per game, he finished second in the NBA in assist to turnover ratio, as well as 11th in assists. But the road to those final numbers was the fun part.
It started with a spot start. Dinwiddie went for 22 points and nailed a deep, dagger 3-pointer with Russell sidelined in the fifth game of the season as the Nets beat the Cavaliers at Barclays Center. By mid-November, Dinwiddie was entrenched in the starting lineup with Russell sidelined for two months by a knee injury. In his second start after Russell’s injury, Dinwiddie poured in 25 points with six 3-pointers and averaged 19.3 points and 8.0 assists in a four-game stretch. The Dinwiddie tale was off and running, but just getting started.
There was a pair of 26-point games in December, and in January came the real dramatics. Dinwiddie’s game-winner against the Timberwolves capped a 26-point, nine-assist outing with zero turnovers. It was the first of three game-winning baskets in the month, including a buzzer-beater in Detroit on Jan. 21. And that doesn’t include his wild 31-point show against Toronto, in which Dinwiddie scored 21 points in the fourth quarter and overtime before the Nets fell to the Eastern Conference’s top team in OT.
February brought Dinwiddie further into the spotlight with his appearance at NBA All-Star Weekend. Selected for the Skills Challenge, Dinwiddie won the event. In addition, his assist numbers skyrocketed during the month, with Dinwiddie averaging 9.1 assists in February.
He moved back into a reserve role in mid-March, but continued major contributions, including a double-double with 12 points and 12 assists in a win at Miami and 20 points with seven assists in a win over Chicago.
Over the course of the season, Dinwiddie emerged as a team leader with the confidence to take and make crunch-time shots while leading the team in offensive rating.
By the end of the season, Dinwiddie had a well-earned place in conversations about the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. He finished 11th in the NBA in assists and second in assist to turnover ratio. His leadership and strong play was crucial at a point in the season where the Nets desperately needed it after the injuries to Lin and Russell. Dinwiddie was a capable scorer on a decent volume of attempts. But his overall field goal percentage was steadily in the 38-39 percent range throughout the season. After getting off to a decent start from 3-point range – shooting 38.8 percent as of December 1 – Dinwiddie’s numbers steadily declined over the season and he finished at 32.6 percent behind the arc on a career-high 433 attempts that made up 51.7 percent of his overall field goal attempts.