Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie return won’t help rebounding

Brooklyn Nets Spencer Dinwiddie (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Spencer Dinwiddie (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets are “close” to getting back sixth man Spencer Dinwiddie, according to a report, but having their top reserve back won’t help on the glass.

Spencer Dinwiddie, who has missed the last 14 games for the Brooklyn Nets while recovering from surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right thumb, is nearing a return to action, according to a report from Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Dinwiddie was on the court at Barclays Center prior to Wednesday night’s loss to the Washington Wizards, taking some catch-and-shoot attempts while wearing a brace on his right thumb.

Coach Kenny Atkinson told the media before the game that Dinwiddie’s return is coming soon.

"“He’s very close to returning. Very close. I’ll leave it at that. Close. I know you want specifics, but he’s very close.“Still discussing. We discuss it every day. Like I said, he’s close. He’s been doing a lot on court. He’s close to being ready.”"

Teammate DeMarre Carroll sounded as if he was ready to push things along.

"“He must be close. Spencer knows that timetable, but I think he should be back soon. I’m going to make him be back soon.”"

The Nets are just 6-8 in Dinwiddie’s absence and their offense has been prone to falling out of rhythm without their best penetrator and drive-and-kick passer.

Without Dinwiddie providing those paint touches, Brooklyn’s offense has been stagnant at time and has had difficulties getting open looks for shooters.

Dinwiddie, who is averaging 17.2 points, 5.0 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 28.6 minutes per game in 49 games for Brooklyn, all but four off the bench, and shooting 46.1 percent overall and 36.6 percent on 5.3 3-point attempts per game, was a leading contender for Sixth Man of the Year honors before the injury.

If past is precedent, Dinwiddie could be back much sooner than later, as he was assigned to Brooklyn’s NBA G League affiliate in Uniondale on Thursday for a practice session.

Previously this season, Treveon Graham and Caris LeVert had stints with the Long Island club for practices — with Graham playing in one game — before they returned to the Brooklyn rotation after lengthy absences due to injury.

However, Dinwiddie’s return doesn’t address what has again become a major concern for the Nets — rebounding, particularly on the defensive glass.

In Wednesday’s loss to the Wizards, Brooklyn was absolutely dominated on the glass by the bigger Washington club. The Wizards had a 57-41 advantage on the glass and grabbed 17 offensive boards.

Center Jarrett Allen said part of the problem was the team’s focus … or lack thereof, per Lewis in a separate report for the Post.

"“I just attribute it to us not preparing well and not being mentally focused. In the NBA you have to prepare for every single game like they’re a top seed. You could tell our minds weren’t there.”"

Atkinson admitted his club fell short in the effort department.

"“We didn’t have that ‘it.’ Whatever that ‘it’ is, we didn’t have it across the board, players, coaches. It just wasn’t there. Not nearly good enough. Games like this happen in the NBA.“I didn’t like the way it happened, the form it happened. There were some 50-50 balls, some rebounds, some physicality things we succumbed to. That’s the disappointing part. … They completely dominated us.”"

Since LeVert was reinserted into the starting lineup in the final game before the All-Star break on Feb. 13 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Nets have been running with a starting unit essentially consisting of Allen and four guards — D’Angelo Russell, LeVert, Joe Harris and Graham.

Over that five-game span, Brooklyn is the third-worst defensive rebounding team in the NBA, securing just 68.5 percent of the available boards. That compared to a 72.0 percent rate for the season, 22nd in the league.

The Nets are a top-10 offensive rebounding team on the season, ranked ninth with an offensive rebounding percentage of 28.5. But over the last five games with the fun-sized starting unit, they are 19th in the NBA at 25.6 percent.

Per, Brooklyn’s five-man unit of Harris, Russell, Graham, LeVert and Allen has played 55 minutes together since Feb. 13 and had been outrebounded by a whopping 66-47 margin and has surrendered 18 offensive boards in that span, while getting just eight.

For a team that is now 32-31 and has an absolute gauntlet of a schedule ahead beginning March 13 — a stretch of 12 games in a row against teams with winning records, with nine of them on the road, including seven straight from March 13-28 — that rebounding deficit is a major red flag.

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Getting Dinwiddie back will undoubtedly be a big boost for the Nets. But unless Brooklyn can clean up the problems finishing opponent’s possessions, it won’t be as big a boost as hoped.