Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie’s award comments not wrong

(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie set the record straight on comments aired Wednesday on YES Network about the Most Improved Player voting last season.

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie went on the record — for a long time — during his media availability on Thursday, one day after comments taken from a much broader response aired during halftime of Wednesday’s preseason game on YES Network.

Dinwiddie was discussing last year’s voting for Most Improved Player, an award for which Dinwiddie was a finalist along with eventual winner Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers as well as Houston Rockets center Clint Capela.

In the interview broadcast Wednesday, which YES Network promoted by touting Dinwiddie as “always honest,” the edited interview was perceived as Dinwiddie ripping the other two finalists as being unworthy:

"“[Oladipo] had great years for [three] years, had one down year, then had a great, like an even better year, and they were like, ‘Ah, man, look, he played bad one year and then he played well.”"

On Capela, Dinwiddie said in the interview:

"“[Capela] played very well, but at the same time, through the dynamics of the team, he kinda got to just come in and do his job.”"

On Thursday, Dinwiddle talked for nearly 2½ minutes while clarifying and contextualizing what he had said in the YES interview, per Jonathan Lehman of the New York Post.

"“My whole thing was on the definition of ‘improved’ — that was the point that I made. Not that they were not good, somehow or some other thing.“My point was: The production, in terms of advanced analytics, where it ranked, what happened, from a person who was out of the league — like, not in the league, not ‘assigned’ to the D-League, literally in the D-League — to come here, not supposed to play, 14th, 15th man, whatever you want to call it, on the roster, behind [D’Angelo Russell] and [Jeremy Lin], to then have the season that he had, if we’re going to compare it to the other two people, I felt, by definition of ‘improved,’ that I should’ve won it.”"

Dinwiddie makes some compelling arguments. He was signed out of what is now the G League by the Nets in December 2016 and averaged 7.3 points and 3.1 assists per game for the remainder of the season with Brooklyn.

Last season, those numbers improved to 12.6 points and 6.6 assists a night and he made 58 starts.

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That is significant improvement, particularly in the context of Dinwiddie not being on an NBA roster to start the 2016-17 season to being a double-figure scorer and a team’s most frequently started point guard.

In a world of nuance — something that often gets lost in the 140-characters-or-less world of popular opinion — it is possible to both (a) believe Dinwiddie had an extremely strong case for Most Improved Player and (b) not have any problem with the selection of Oladipo.

Part of the problem with the award since its inception in 1985-86, when it replaced the Comeback Player of the Year award (which had become heavy with winners who had solid years after coming back from substance abuse rehab), is that the parameters aren’t very well defined for the voters.

“Improved” is a subjective term and often the award in the past was often given to a player whose per game averages shot up the most, even if those spikes were more related to the player getting greater playing time rather than any substantive improvement in their play.

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  • That’s gotten better in recent years, as voters become less attached to the traditional ways of measuring player production in favor of metrics that more equally allow players to be compared (per-36 minutes breakdowns, advanced analytics, tracking-level stats).

    Dinwiddie would certainly have been worthy of the honor had he been chosen. He just happened to be a finalist in a year where all three of the top vote-getters could make compelling cases.

    Oladipo being worthy of selection, however, doesn’t invalidate any of the points Dinwiddie has made about the award and the selection process for it.

    The voters weren’t wrong to choose Oladipo. But neither is Dinwiddie wrong in his reasoning about why it could have gone another way.

    Editing the interview to make it appear Dinwiddie was somehow beefing with Oladipo and Capela was disingenuous at best. I get time constraints associated with television and sometimes material from interviews has to be left in the archives.

    Next. 10 best seasons in franchise history. dark

    But particularly in the era where the “fake news” parrot cry is dropped with maddening frequency, news outlets have a responsibility to the truth and to allowing interview subjects to be heard in true context.