Brooklyn Nets 2017-2018 Player Grade: Spencer Dinwiddie

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 31: Spencer Dinwiddie
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 31: Spencer Dinwiddie /

Spencer Dinwiddie entered the season with modest expectations, but put together one of the most productive seasons of all Brooklyn Nets’ players. The fourth year guard deserves an A- for his contributions this season.

In the opening game of the 2017-2018 season, Spencer Dinwiddie didn’t see the court a whole lot. Playing just 17 minutes, he looked to be the Brooklyn Nets’ third or fourth option, with Jeremy Lin, D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, and Caris LeVert all seeing more playing time.

None of this was particularly surprising. Dinwiddie entered the season having started only 19 games in his career. The Nets traded for D’Angelo Russell prior to the season, and Jeremy Lin was signed to be their starting point guard. Caris LeVert was their first round pick. If Dinwiddie wanted more minutes, he’d have to carve out a role. Within the next few weeks, that’s exactly what he did.

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By mid-November, both Lin and Russell were sidelined with injuries, and Dinwiddie was given a chance to showcase his talents. With consistent minutes, and a role as the primary ball-handler, Dinwiddie thrived.

During Russell’s absence, Dinwiddie averaged 14.4 points and seven assists per game. He took on a leadership role as the go-to scorer, sinking not one, but two game-winners for the Brooklyn Nets during the season:

Numbers Showcase Strong Season for Dinwiddie

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Dinwiddie developed a great rapport with both Jarrett Allen and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Allen especially became a huge target for Dinwiddie as a rim-runner. Beyond the pick-and-roll, isolation play became a huge part of the guard’s game. His 18.7% frequency on isolations was 10th most in the league, ahead of Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving. Against the Timberwolves in January, Dinwiddie’s talents were on full display:

Performances like this became common during Dinwiddie’s run at the helm of the Nets offense.

One of Dinwiddie’s main assets was his ability to take care of the basketball. His 4.09 assist to turnover ratio was good for second best in the NBA. He didn’t just limit turnovers, though. Dinwiddie finished seventh in the NBA in assists, ahead of guys like Chris Paul, Ricky Rubio, and Kemba Walker.

Beyond traditional box score stats, Dinwiddie was the Nets analytics MVP. He led the Nets in Box Plus/Minus, Win Shares, and Value over Replacement Player, per Basketball-Reference. Oh, and he won the Skills Challenge at All-Star Weekend. That has to count for something.

After starting just 19 games in his career prior to the season, Dinwiddie tripled that number in 2017-2018, starting in 58. He nearly doubled his scoring per game, from seven points per game in 2016-2017 to 12.6 this past season. His assists more than doubled, from three a game to 6.6. If not for Victor Oladipo’s remarkable season, Dinwiddie would be getting more attention for Most Improd’ved Player. He’ll almost certainly receive some consideration from the voters.

Next: Brooklyn Nets 2017-18 Player Grade: Caris Levert

Once D’Angelo Russell returned from injury, Dinwiddie’s role in the offense decreased. He went from averaging nearly 12 shots per game in November-February to averaging around eight shots in March and April. It was, at times, an awkward fit. Both players thrive with the ball in their hands, while neither player shoots particularly well from three (32.6% for Dinwiddie this season, 32.4% for Russell).

With a full off season together, they’ll have a chance to make it work. The Brooklyn Nets still have decisions looming at guard this coming season, with Dinwiddie, Lin, and Russell all set for free agency after the year, and all players vying for minutes. Whatever they decide, Dinwiddie has proven what he’s capable of, and that he undoubtedly has a place in this league.