Drama in the NBA is nothing new, and drama on social media is nothing new. Combine the two and you are bound to find drama, aversion, hostility, and anything under the sun.
Even when you are someone as unknown as Spencer Dinwiddie.
Dinwiddie has mastered the art of social media at this point and has quite the cult following. He has a fanbase that has constantly been behind him. Even after he got traded and released by the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls in 2016.
But even your own fanbase can’t save you from the aforementioned drama, aversion, and hostility. In fact, Dinwiddie has had his mentions practically invaded by people telling him that he was a bum and that they didn’t even know who he was.
Admittedly enough, Spencer Dinwiddie isn’t a name that is synonymous with the NBA. He’s not exactly the league’s highest commodity, and if we’re to believe his mentions, apparently he’s pretty bad and no one knows who he is.
— Julius Adams (@LittleSSS___) October 26, 2016
had it in my drafts bro, knew you was gon get 🔪🔪🔪🔪🔪🔪. Now have Sam goldfeder find you a d league team
— Bubba Johnson (@Bubba_too_real) October 21, 2016
Unexpectedly enough, Spencer came to defend himself. Strangely enough, after looking at some stats, there is only one logical conclusion to the argument that Dinwiddie is a “bum” or “doesn’t belong in the league.”
Dinwiddie more than belongs in the league, he’s pretty valuable.
However, once the news broke out that Spencer was signed by the Brooklyn Nets, the aversion to the young point guard came out more than ever before.
Got rid of Yogi for this dude…? Why?
— 🇺🇸 Click 🇹🇼 (@C_L_I_C_K) December 8, 2016
@NetsDaily but why???
— Nubii88 (@nubii88) December 8, 2016
— 🌶 Hardn SZN 🌶 (@Six_Dawg) December 8, 2016
The Rise Of Spencer Dinwiddie
Before any of us rush to the defense of Dinwiddie, it is fair to ask one question about him since he’s so seemingly unknown to casual watchers of the NBA.
“Just who the hell is Spencer Dinwiddie and why should I care about him?”
Fair point. As every day passes, it seems more difficult to find anybody who knows who Dinwiddie is and where he and his following came from. But without remembering his roots back in high school and the University Of Colorado, we miss out on the larger scope of the story for Dinwiddie.
The year was 2010, and Dinwiddie was becoming one of the most intriguing players coming out of Los Angeles. The thing that intrigued scouts about Dinwiddie was his size and his unusual play style with his aforementioned size.
He could have games where he scored 25 points and the team would win, but others where he failed to even score a single point and the team would still win. Obviously, this intrigued scouts enough to really look into him and what they found was interesting.
Out of high school, Dinwiddie had good teammates but nothing special. No blue chippers that were undoubtedly going to a D-1 College. So scouts saw Dinwiddie as a real game changer for any team that he was on.
Even his former teammates said that their offense relied on Dinwiddie and that everything went through him.
With his size and an array of offensive skills, it’s not a shock that Colorado found Dinwiddie considering just how aggressive they are in recruiting in the Los Angeles area. Dinwiddie, of course, accepted the offer from the Buffaloes and played really good. Good enough to the point where people began to pay attention to him.
Dinwiddie was described by coaches, journalists, and NCAA scouts as the following.
“A 6-foot-6 point guard who can make life miserable for the opposition. A point guard who is as big as a forward but with the ball handling and passing skills of a conventional distributor can give a defense headaches. Most likely, CU will go as far as a Dinwiddie can take them.”
In fact, Arizona coach, Sean Miller had this to say about Dinwiddie headed into a matchup with him in the middle of the year. “Spencer Dinwiddie is not fun to play against because he attacks the game in so many ways.”
Tad Boyle, Colorado’s head coach, had this to say about Dinwiddie when they were recruiting him out of high school. “If you put a bigger guy on him, he’ll go by him; and if you put a smaller guy on him, he’ll obviously have an advantage with his size. Spencer is very comfortable with the ball. He’s a good decision-maker. He can see over defenses. That size really helps him in the pick-and-roll and to find guys. He can pick them out because he is 6-6.”
So as two years passed by, Spencer Dinwiddie became a prominent figure in Colorado’s basketball program and he was tearing it up in college. At the time, he was looking like a legitimate 1st Round NBA talent and was bound for a great junior season.
The Pac-12 was on notice and Dinwiddie was ready to climb to the top.
His junior season began in 2013 and he was off to a strong start. His defense was starting to become a serious part of his game, his scoring greatly improved from his freshman year, and he looked like he had mastered the fundamentals of being a point guard.
17 games into his junior year, Dinwiddie looked smooth. He became Colorado’s certain leader and main ball handler. At the time, he was averaging 16.6 points per game and 4.6 assists per game.
Plus, from an aesthetic standpoint, he looked more comfortable shooting the ball, playing through pick and rolls, and despite that he wasn’t the craftiest shot maker he certainly never looked bad taking it to the rim and if anything, it’s where he excelled.
However, only 5 games into conference play, his junior season was derailed when he tore his ACL.
All the sudden, an undoubted 1st round talent and the best point guard in the Pac-12 was forced to sit on the bench for the rest of the year. Players like Elfrid Payton, Marcus Smart, and even Shabazz Napier continued to get their time to shine. Meanwhile, his draft stock continued to decline as every day went on.
All of a sudden, Dinwiddie became a doubtful 2nd round talent and scouts began to whisper around the idea that he’d be better off staying another year in college. Although it was a tough decision, Dinwiddie took his chance, rolled the dice, and declared for the NBA Draft in 2014.
The following day, NBA scouts began to scrutinize every game that he had a chance to play in and the biggest concern was obviously the fact that patience would be required the same way that it was required with a fellow draftee, Nerlens Noel.
The difference between him and Nerlens was the thought of a recurring injury. Scouts simply didn’t see Nerlens’ injury as something that would occur the same way that they thought it might with Spencer.
So, with the scouts scared of a recurring injury and thoughts that he would have a tough time translating his game into and NBA style of play, his draft stock continued to drop as the Buffaloes continued to drop game after game.
After the Buffaloes lost Dinwiddie, they finished the year, and specifically, their final 15 games with a 7-8 record and finished the year with a total record of 23-12. The loss of Dinwiddie was also felt in March Madness when Colorado failed to make it past the 2nd round.
With his team struggling and still going through rehab the idea to go straight into the NBA was starting to become one that was questioned by scouts. But as more and more time went on, the NBA Draft neared and it was time to see whether or not a team would draft Dinwiddie.
Life In The NBA
With that being said, Dinwiddie was taken by the Detroit Pistons with the 38th overall pick in the NBA Draft.
The Pistons were one of very few teams that didn’t seem to be concerned with Dinwiddie’s injury. David Bower (Pistons’ General Manager) consistently went on record to say that they were comfortable with Dinwiddie’s medical reports.
According to reports, Bower and Van Gundy looked deep into any transaction Dinwiddie may have had with his surgeon and his therapist. Their medical team dug so deep that they literally had all of Dinwiddie’s records and knew everything about his medical status.
According to Van Gundy and Bower, all the reports that were given to them were positive and gave them reassurance to pick Dinwiddie.
But no report was more reassuring than the one they received from Rodney Billups. A Colorado assistant coach and the brother of former Pistons and 04′ Finals MVP, Chauncey Billups.
With the reports setting him up to be anything but injury prone and a talented player, Dinwiddie was set to start NBA career with none other than the Pistons in the middle of a rebuild.
However, from the moment Dinwiddie’s first game tipped off, the problems were prevalent within the Pistons organization and their inability to get Dinwiddie on the court at appropriate times.
For starters, Dinwiddie was first subbed in during a weird time where then Pistons starting Point Guard, Brandon Jennings, was playing good and was surprising mostly everyone with how much he was moving the ball.
Spencer was subbed in for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope but not Jennings. Which then put two point guards on the floor and made it incredibly flimsy to move the ball around.
That also only put one decent shooter on the court in the form of an aging and at times unreliable Caron Butler. In only his first time on an NBA court, problems were out wide in the open for anyone to see for themselves.
Even when Brandon Jennings was eventually subbed out, it was for D.J. Augustin who also could only play the point or else his shooting or lack thereof would be exposed by everyone.
In only his first possession, Dinwiddie had his fate sealed as a Piston.
In the 14-15 season, Dinwiddie had 2-Man Combinations surrounding him at all times. He and Jodie Meeks played for a total of 305 minutes and 26 seconds. To put it simply, playing with Meeks for that long did nothing to help either player.
Meeks was a bad shooter that year and it wasn’t because Dinwiddie failed to get him decent shots or failed to set him up inside the paint. Meeks was just a bad shooter for the sake of being a bad shooter.
In the 14-15 season, Meeks shot in at a below average .349% from beyond the arc. It was his 2nd worst shooting season in his career and even from looking at it from an effective field goal perspective, it was still a bad season. Meeks shot in at only .485%.
The icing on the cake was that this same season was a year in which he took the 2nd most amount of shots and as you see from the stats above, it just wasn’t good for him nor Dinwiddie.
Which brings us to the next reason as to why Dinwiddie’s tenure with the Pistons ended in a poor way. At one point, the Pistons had 3 point guards competing for the backup job. It was a logjam and whichever one took shots and made them would get the job.
Hence, why on the surface Dinwiddie took a lot of shots for the Pistons. Though John Lucas and D.J. Augustin may not be the most cream of the crop as far as guards go, they’re still competition at the end of the day.
Taking shots and hoping somebody would notice was the only way any of these guards could’ve stuck on the team. The only problem is that what that in it of itself led to was terrible shots on a consistent basis from each point guard on the team.
Bad shooters and a competition for the backup point guard job did nothing to help Spencer and on occasions, he struggled to play well.
However, there were moments in the 14-15 season when Spencer began to break out and prove to us why he belonged in the league.
In the middle of February when the Pistons were in a slump and had injuries going all around for their guards, Spencer Dinwiddie stepped to the plate and did not disappoint.
After this game, the coaching staff decided to give Dinwiddie another chance to run the offense with significant minutes and once again, Dinwiddie played beyond anyone’s expectations.
However, after these 2 games Stan Van Gundy changed the gameplan and instead of giving Dinwiddie minutes with the starters and letting him run the offense the way he wanted to, he received 15 or so minutes each game with the bench running a slower offense than he was accustomed to playing with.
After 14 games of running an offense that never worked with Dinwiddie, the 14-15 season ended and the Pistons failed to make any real strides outside of one long winning streak.
Dinwiddie was then reduced to a third string role after veteran, Steve Blake, was traded from the Brooklyn Nets for Quincy Miller.
Once Blake was on the team, Spencer rarely received any minutes. With the exception of a short stretch of games where Blake was out of action, Dinwiddie only played in 6 real games.
But even then, in 4 of those games, Dinwiddie received a maximum of 5 minutes of playing time. As expected, 5 minutes with the likes of Joel Anthony, an aging Anthony Tolliver, and a young Reggie Bullock.
As a matter of fact, judging Dinwiddie’s sophomore season is nearly impossible considering that he barely played any games and was instead stashed away in the D-League with Detroit’s affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive.
To be honest, that’s where Dinwiddie’s true story of his sophomore season lies, within the D-League.
Though he only played 13 games for the Drive, he started 11 of those games and was able to run the offense he wanted to run. It was fast paced, and it was a frenetic offense that was consistently attacking the defense.
It reflected in his stats as well. In that small span of time, he was in the D-League, he had a total of 73 assists (5th in the league) and had an incredible offensive rating of 120.8. (7th)
In the 33.7 minutes that he played in per game, he averaged 14.7 points, 6.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds per game, and even 2.2 steals.
Alas, even with his impressive stat line, Dinwiddie was unable to be a consistent member of the Pistons. They later traded him to Chicago for Cameron Bairstow as a cap space move.
The Bulls then released him after a couple of games in the D-League and it’s only until now that Dinwiddie has hopped back on people’s radar after being signed by the Nets.
But the Nets may not realize what they have. The Nets have perhaps the biggest diamond in the rough around the NBA.
By examining and comparing Dinwiddie to players throughout league history the findings were really quite astonishing. Strangely enough, Dinwiddie in his 3rd and last season, was comparable to the likes of both point guards that have stood out now and in the past.
Let’s take for example six players who play similarly to Dinwiddie, in the likes of Eric Bledsoe, Shaun Livingston, and Kyle Anderson as our modern players and John Stockton and Gary Payton as our players from the past.
The statistics found here were rather surprising as Dinwiddie had a higher eFG% than all of those players, with an eFG% of .507%. Even more surprising though, despite Dinwiddie only scoring 7.3 points per game, he had a higher offensive rating than every other player. With the exception of John Stockton since they both tied with 116.
Again, despite not being a top tier scorer Dinwiddie did end the season with a higher true shooting percentage than all of the players mentioned thus far with a TS% of .581%.
Dinwiddie also finds himself in a weird category with all of these players as he also appears to be a better rebounder than Livingston, Payton, and Stockton. Overall, Dinwiddie grabs more defensive and total rebounds and has a higher DRB% and TRB% than all 3 of them.
However, the argument against Dinwiddie could be that he’s not as gifted a passer as any of them and it is hard to combat that. After all, Dinwiddie only has more assists than Bledsoe and Anderson in this sample size.
Although, that might be due to the fact that the only player with a lower usage percentage than him is Kyle Anderson, who is a small forward.
Overall, from this sample size, Dinwiddie appears to be as good as most of these players at this stage of their careers and some could argue that with his size, he’s already better than some of them were at this point.
But in order to get a more accurate view of who Dinwiddie is, it is only fair that another sample size is tested. This time, Dinwiddie will be compared to the likes of Patrick Beverley, Elfrid Payton, and Michael Carter-Williams as the modern players. As for legends, Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady are the two that Dinwiddie will be compared to.
Once again, the statistics find that Dinwiddie is a more efficient scorer than all of them at this point in their perspective careers. Dinwiddie has both the best EFG% and TS% amongst this group of players, and despite having the lowest usage percentage, by far of these players, he still manages to score an effective 11.7 points per game when accommodated to per 36 minutes statistics.
So with the comparisons showing that Dinwiddie flashes some serious potential and putting that aside for a moment, just who is Dinwiddie as an individual player right now as opposed to his first year in the league? Has he shown improvement?
The short answer to that would be yes, and the long answer would be that he has shown improvement on a massive scale.
In his 3rd year, Dinwiddie has found a career best in the following statistics. FG%, 3P%, EFG%, rebounds per game, steals per game, and even blocks per game.
The important thing to note though is that the increase in his statistics should not be considered marginally. If anything, the sudden jump in his statistics is rather outstanding. In only one year, Dinwiddie went from a FG% of .352% in his sophomore year to a FG% of .444% in his junior year.
After that, his 3P% jumped from a minuscule .100% to a satisfactory .376%. His EFG% went from just .361% to .507%. His player efficiency rating leaped from 8.9 to 12.7, his TS% made a jump from .423% to .581%, and his OWS went from 0.0 to 1.9.
Granted, these statistics may not be flashy, but if his junior season shows anything it’s a massive sign of improvement coming from a player who just a year ago found himself in the D-League.
What’s Next For Dinwiddie?
To put things bluntly, Spencer Dinwiddie is a lot of fun. Both on Twitter and on the court, he’s different than most everyone that he’s around. Overall, he’s a special type of person and player.
From the looks of it, that interesting personality is not leaving Brooklyn anytime soon. Currently, he’s on a contract until 2019 and he looks like he could be a solid point guard coming off the bench for a long time to come.
But perhaps there’s more in Dinwiddie’s future. After all, nobody expected this sudden jump in his statistics and nobody, including myself, expected his outside jumper to improve this quickly considering that was one part of his game that has always been heavily criticized.
But with Dinwiddie showing improvements in every vital sector of his game, who’s to say what’s next for Dinwiddie. His shooting, his vision, and his athleticism have all improved so much in such a small amount of time that perhaps next year is the year we truly see him break out as a player.
Whether it be off the bench or as a starter, the future appears bright for a man who was once thought to be worth nothing more than a second round pick.