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Spencer Dinwiddie & Jarrett Allen Are Brooklyn Nets' Unique Duo

Spencer Dinwiddie had seen this all play out before, and he knew the script by heart.

Is he really focused on basketball? Does he love the game? He’s interested in all that geeky tech stuff, right?

Is he … too smart?

Were those whispers the reasons Jarrett Allen was available for a Nets team eager to grab him with the 22nd pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, after early speculation had him comfortably in the top 15?

Dinwiddie just knew that it all echoed the chatter that surrounded him on his way into the league three years earlier.

“They raise all these questions because they don’t understand the person or the person doesn’t fit a particular mold or he’s not the traditional guy,” said Dinwiddie. “Those two things immediately had me take an interest in Jarrett and then obviously he’s a great dude, and we just kind of connect overall as human beings. That’s kind of what happened. I’d like to think that I understand him and vice versa, because it’s two dudes that are just a little bit different than normal guys in the NBA.”

So Dinwiddie, coming off his first season in Brooklyn back when Allen was drafted, saw a little bit of himself in the rookie, and a little bit of his younger brother, Taylor.

“My little brother’s 5-9 and doesn’t play basketball at all,” said Dinwiddie, “but if he was 7-foot and one of the most talented people in the world, then I would assume he would be Jarrett Allen.”

Allen was just 19 years old when he stepped into the wide world of the NBA, and his own experience in a big-time basketball spotlight was relatively limited. He had, in fact, come to pursue basketball in a serious way a little bit later than most players that reach this level. When he did though, it was a rocket ride. A five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American, Allen waited until May of his senior year to commit to his hometown Longhorns at the University of Texas.

A year later, he was in Brooklyn.

“Like most rookies, we’re kind of in our own bubble, you know,” said Allen. “We don’t want to reach out, but Spencer reached out himself.”

Dinwiddie was just 24 himself at the time, but he’d been through a few things by that point.

A torn ACL during his junior season at Colorado didn’t deter Dinwiddie from entering the 2014 NBA Draft, but it didn’t help his draft stock either. The tale since is well-known by now; two frustrating years in Detroit after being drafted in the second round, cut by Chicago in training camp in 2016, playing in the G League when the Nets signed him that December.

What Dinwiddie offered Allen was a road map to navigating what he felt was familiar ground for both, pointing out the potential pitfalls and the reactions Allen could expect depending on which path he chose.

“I basically started to adopt the mentality of, I’m going to say what I’m going to say,” said Dinwiddie. “I’m not going to apologize about it. At the very least, y’all are going to know what I’m thinking. If you misquote me, I’ll come out and be like, they misquoted me. This is what I said. This is exactly how I meant it. Whether you believe me or not, don’t really care. I took that route, rather the more introverted of, they’re going to say what they’re going to say, I’m just not going to say nothing.”

Allen isn’t nearly as expansive as Dinwiddie or most of his teammates, but he’s genuine and candid, probably not as quiet as generally described. Having turned 21 just last April, he still has a bit of that big kid vibe. He’s got a fan in Dinwiddie, and it’s mutual.

Dinwiddie has consistently touted Allen as a player destined to be one of the league’s best centers and a future All-Star, including during an appearance for the two on ESPN’s The Jump during All-Star Weekend in Charlotte last February.

When Allen was asked over the summer the three people he’d invite to dinner by YES Network’s Michael Grady, Dinwiddie’s was the first name he mentioned.

“Spencer, he’s an interesting character,” said Allen. “At the end of the day, he’s going to have a story to tell about something, and he’s able to go in great detail. And obviously he’s just a good guy to be around.”

They connect over some of that tech stuff, even though they come at it from different angles. Allen has always been a bit more interested in the hardware, but he’s poking into the blockchain tech that interests Dinwiddie. They’ll chat about cooking, or what kind of car Allen should get. Allen followed Dinwiddie’s advice so closely he showed up one day driving the exact same Tesla Model X. So Dinwiddie gave his away to family.

Their lockers are nearby each other, and Allen likes to tuck his 6-foot-11 frame back into the locker itself. Dinwiddie likes his feet up, so he’ll pull up his chair, put his feet on Allen’s empty chair, and away they’ll go.

“I definitely get a word in,” said Allen. “It’s not as many. It’s perfect. It balances out. He has what he needs to say and then when I need to chime in — which isn’t much — I chime in. It works.”

“It just meshes,” said Dinwiddie. “We just work.”

Right in between Allen and Dinwiddie in a corner of the Nets’ locker room at Barclays Center is Joe Harris, an alignment that’s been consistent for the last three years.

“A lot of banter over there,” said Harris. And maybe more than you would think coming from Allen’s side.

“Once you get to know JA, he’s outgoing, engaging,” said Harris. “Shoot, it was hilarious when we were in Las Vegas for all the USA stuff, we were out to dinner with my parents and a couple of other folks and we were leaving and it was the most I had ever seen JA talk before and he was chatting it up, and I was like, ‘yeah, this guy always surprises me.’ He’s the type of guy where you just put him in a comfortable setting and you’ll get him going.”

Being around Dinwiddie is one of those comfort zones.

“At the end of the day, he’s a phenomenally talented dude,” said Dinwiddie. “Incredibly smart. He’s a great guy. He’s a really, really great human being. So just being around those types of people make you a better person. By virtue of being his friend, I feel like I’m a better person, and surrounding yourself with people like that, it’s an honor to be around.”