Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie makes a compelling All-Star case

Brooklyn Nets Spencer Dinwiddie. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Spencer Dinwiddie. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

It’s a long shot to be sure, but Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie can make a compelling argument to be the team’s first All-Star selection since 2014.

Voting for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, to be played in Charlotte on Feb. 19, opened on Christmas Day and will continue through 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 21). While he faces steep odds, Brooklyn Nets sixth man Spencer Dinwiddie has a case to make.

The Nets haven’t had an All-Star since Joe Johnson was chosen in 2014 and have only had two players chosen since moving to Brooklyn in 2012: Johnson in 2014 and Brook Lopez in 2013.

Even with the fan vote now only constituting 50 percent of the formula to select the game’s starters, Dinwiddie won’t make a dent there without a concerted effort from Nets fans.

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And let’s get this out of the way: The All-Star Game is not as much a meritocracy as it is a popularity and reputation contest.

That means the Eastern Conference selections at guard already have some sure bets.

Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics is a five-time All-Star, including each of the last two seasons, and is averaging 23.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game on 48.6 percent shooting overall and 41.3 percent from 3-point range. He’s in.

Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets has been chosen each of the last two years and is leading Eastern Conference guards in scoring at 24.8 points per game while also averaging 6.2 assists. Throw in the fact the Hornets are hosting the game and Walker’s a lock.

Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers was a first-time All-Star last season and despite missing 11 games with a sore knee is averaging 20.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game for one of the East’s best teams. He’ll have a lot of support.

Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors has been to four straight All-Star Games and leads Eastern Conference guards with 9.8 assists per game. His shooting is wayward this season and his scoring is down, but Lowry has to be considered a favorite.

Despite appearing disinterested and unhappy at times this season, John Wall of the Washington Wizards has been selected for five straight All-Star Games and is averaging 20.7 points and 8.7 assists per game. He could be a resume pick by selectors not paying close attention.

It’s not likely more than five Eastern Conference guards will be chosen to go with seven frontcourt players and those five spots could basically already be spoken for — unless something surprising happens with Oladipo, Lowry and/or Wall.

As for Dinwiddie, his case is two-fold. For starters, he’s now leading the Nets in scoring this season at 17.6 points per game, moving past D’Angelo Russell based on his strong play this month.

The Nets are 8-4 in December and have won eight of their last nine, with Dinwiddie’s 20.8 points and 5.8 assists on 49.1 percent shooting overall and 35.9 percent marksmanship from 3-points range — along with his 7.4 free throw attempts a night — leading the charge even from a reserve role.

On the season, he’s at 17.6 points, 5.1 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 28.9 minutes per game while shooting 47.5 percent overall and 36.7 percent from deep.

The list of players in the NBA averaging at least 17 points and five assists on at least 47 percent and 36 percent shooting is not a very long one.

  • Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (28.6 PPG, 5.2 APG, 48.7%, 45.9%)
  • Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors (28.8 PPG, 6.1 APG, 50.5%, 36.6%)
  • De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings (18.1 PPG, 7.5 APG, 47.3%, 41.2%)
  • Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics (23.3 PPG, 6.3 APG, 48.6%, 41.3%)
  • Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets (17.6 PPG, 5.1 APG, 47.5%, 36.7%)

Dinwiddie has become a much more efficient scorer this season, scoring five more points per game in nearly identical playing time from last season (28.8 minutes in 2017-18 to 28.9 minutes this season).

That increase in scoring from 12.6 points to 17.6 points per game comes with just 1.7 more field goal attempts a game, but also an increase of 1.7 free throw attempts a night. He’s driving more and thriving as a result.

Dinwiddie is 12th among Eastern Conference guards who are averaging at least 25 minutes per game, while ranking 29th in minutes, so he’s giving a lot of bang for the buck.

He is also ninth in field goal percentage, sixth in free-throw attempts per game and 12th in assists per game.

As a reserve, he has an NBA-leading seven games this season with at least 25 points, narrowly missing an eighth with 24 points in Sunday’s win over the Phoenix Suns.

The other players with more than one 25-point game off the bench are Lou Williams of the LA Clippers (five), Derrick Rose of the Minnesota Timberwolves (four), Jordan Clarkson of the Cleveland Cavaliers (three), Montrezl Harrell of the Clippers (three), Julius Randle of the New Orleans Pelicans (three), Trey Burke and Kevin Knox of the New York Knicks (two each), J.J. Redick of the Philadelphia 76ers (two) and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat (two).

Lou Williams is a two-time Sixth Man of the Year winner, Rose is a former NBA MVP and Wade is a former NBA Finals MVP and a 12-time All-Star, so that’s some pretty good company to be ahead of on a list.

What will help Dinwiddie’s case the most with the coaches in the East who will be picking the reserve is Brooklyn continuing to win games. The Nets come out of their two-day Christmas break at 16-19, ninth in the Eastern Conference.

They’re a game behind the eighth-place Detroit Pistons, and 1½ games back of the sixth-place Hornets and seventh-place Heat — with a home-and-home with Charlotte coming up Wednesday in Brooklyn and Friday hosted by the Hornets. A sweep would vault them ahead of Charlotte.

Depending what Miami does in the interim — the Heat host Toronto Wednesday and Cleveland on Friday — the Nets could be as high as sixth place by the weekend provided they keep winning.

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Spencer Dinwiddie is not a slam-dunk choice to be an All-Star, but his play warrants serious consideration.