Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie playing like he’s got something to prove (again)

Brooklyn Nets Spencer Dinwiddie (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Spencer Dinwiddie (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie erupted for a career-high 39 points Wednesday to as he makes a case for a contract extension.

Perhaps the biggest surprise Wednesday night was that Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks didn’t meet guard Spencer Dinwiddie in the locker room with a max contract extension to sign after Dinwiddie sparked the Nets to a 127-124 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Dinwiddie scored 15 points in the third quarter as Brooklyn took control of the game and added 12 in the fourth period as the Nets (11-18) hung on down the stretch for their third consecutive victory.

The fifth-year guard finished with a career-high 39 points, hitting 11-of-18 overall, going 4-for-6 from 3-point range and making 13 of his 14 foul shots, while adding five assists in 30 minutes on the court.

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Since becoming eligible Saturday for a contract extension of up to four years and $47.5 million dollars, Dinwiddie has been making his case for a new deal on the floor with great eloquence, with 64 points and 11 assists in road wins over the New York Knicks and the 76ers.

He’s shooting 21-for-35 overall in that span and 5-of-9 from the 3-point line.

Dinwiddie is thrusting himself into the Sixth Man of the Year discussion as well, now averaging 17.3 points and 4.8 assists in 28.0 minutes per game in 26 games off the bench. Including his three starts, he’s at 16.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 28.7 minutes a night.

His shooting is a solid .474/.368/.773 overall and .486/.383/.780 in a reserve role.

Many more games like Wednesday and Dinwiddie may play his way out of Brooklyn’s budget.

Dinwiddie, along with Joe Harris, is the face of the Nets’ player development culture.

It was Dec. 8, 2016, when the Nets rolled the dice on Dinwiddie, signing him as a free agent and cutting backup point guard Yogi Ferrell, whom they had signed after giving up on projected backup Greivis Vasquez in early November.

Starting point guard Jeremy Lin was sidelined with a hamstring injury and rookie Isaiah Whitehead had been thrust into the starting role.

Ferrell averaged just 5.4 points and 1.7 assists in 15.1 minutes in 10 games with the club, shooting just .367/.296/10-for-16 before being waived to make room for Dinwiddie.

Dinwiddie had been playing for the Windy City Bulls in what was then still the NBA Developmental League. Traded by the Detroit Pistons to the Chicago Bulls over the summer, Dinwiddie had been waived in the preseason by Chicago and was looking for another chance to make it in the NBA.

He was playing well for Windy City, averaging 19.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 8.1 assists and 2.2 steals in 37.4 minutes per game over nine games, shooting .479/.414/.803.

And it had been a long fall for Dinwiddie, a potential lottery pick before tearing an ACL during his junior season at the University of Colorado, an injury that drove him into the second round after he entered the draft anyway. Detroit took him 38th overall in 2014 and then seldom played him.

Dinwiddie played in just 46 games over two seasons with the Pistons, averaging 4.4 points and 2.7 assists in 13.3 minutes per game. The limited time hurt his shooting. He couldn’t find a rhythm and hit just .314/.173/.746 over his two seasons.

He emerged as a rotational player for a 20-win Brooklyn team in 2016-17, starting 18 of his 59 appearances and averaging 7.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 22.6 minutes a game while shooting .444/.376/.792.

Last season, he made 58 starts in 80 games and was a finalist for Most Improved Player honors after averaging 12.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.6 assists in 28.8 minutes per night, but a late-season shooting slump pushed his slash line down to .387/.326/.813.

Brooklyn had signed Dinwiddie to a three-year veteran’s minimum deal in December 2016, but took the drama out of his final year at $1.66 million by making it guaranteed in August.

Dinwiddie said prior to the Dec. 8 eligibility date for an extension that he wanted to remain in Brooklyn, even knowing he could probably do better than $47.5 million over four years as an unrestricted free agent next summer.

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If he keeps putting up 30 a night, Marks might want to reconsider the slow-play and get Dinwiddie’s signature on a new deal … while he still can.