Nets must keep Spencer Dinwiddie playing when D'Angelo Russell returns

Nets must keep Spencer Dinwiddie playing when D'Angelo Russell returns

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Nets must keep Spencer Dinwiddie playing when D'Angelo Russell returns

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie has had an incredible season as a starter even though he wasn’t expected to get much playing time.

Dinwiddie, 24, was not given a guaranteed contract and was likely going to be a reserve behind D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin. Both are out with injuries, however, and Dinwiddie has stepped in as one of the most exciting young players in the league and earned a guaranteed contract.

Michael Pina recently wrote about his biggest strengths on the court (via VICE Sports):

“He keeps his head up in the open floor and does a nice job feeding shooters as soon as they spring open. He’s a no-frills playmaker who takes care of the ball and rarely attempts to do more than what’s necessary to complete a play.”

According to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus, he ranks No. 4 among all point guards in the NBA. Dinwiddie trails just James HardenStephen Curry and Russell Westbrook. 

His turnover ratio (7.3 percent) ranks Top 5 among guards who have played as many games. His assist rate (36.4 percent) ranks Top 5 among all players who have as many appearances, behind Westbrook and LeBron James. He has an assist-to-pass rate (11.8 percent) that ranks ahead of top point guards in the league like Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving.

He has done a phenomenal finding open players for three-point attempts for the Nets. Allen CrabbeRondae-Hollis Jefferson and Caris LeVert are all shooting above 41.0 percent from long distance after passes from Dinwiddie, via NBA.com. For comparison, the league average on three-pointers is 36.3 percent.

As a shooter himself, Dinwiddie has a remarkably high effective field goal percentage (61.4 percent) on spot-up possessions, which ranks Top 10 among players who have had as many attempts. His three-point percentage on catch-and-shoot attempts (47.5 percent) ranks Top 5 among with as many attempts.

No other player in the league has a higher shooting foul frequency (19.8 percent) on one-on-one possessions than Dinwiddie. His overall points per possession on iso-based offenses ranks Top 10.

Among those with as many possessions as a pick-and-roll ball handler, he is among the Top 10 (0.94 PPP) most efficient players in the NBA. Similarly, his score frequency (48.4 percent) on isolation plays ranks Top 5, behind elite players like Harden and John Wall.

Russell, who is working out with the development team for the Nets, will eventually return to the starting lineup for Brooklyn when he is fully healthy. However, it makes sense to keep Dinwiddie there alongside him.

The two can play in the backcourt as combo guards much like they had expected Lin to play with Russell before the season began.

He has recently played more than 35 minutes in each of the last two games and has averaged 30 in the last nine games, even though his career average is just 20.9 per game.

But his 6-foot-6 frame allows him to defend both positions in the backcourt. He has helped the Nets have one of the best defenses in the league over the last nine games.

The 24-year-old has proven himself to have legitimate value on the other side of the ball. Opposing players are shooting 1.4 percent worse when he is defending them.

Their field goal percentage is also significantly worse (5.7 percent) on shots within six feet of the rim. This ranks Top 5 among guards with as many field goals defended in this range.

He has been one of the most intriguing players to watch and must remain in the starting rotation for Brooklyn.

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