New Brooklyn Net Spencer Dinwiddie practiced with the team Friday for the first time. Dinwiddie may not appear to be the immediate answer for the organization struggling to find answers at the point, but he joins a list of players the Nets see as prospects ... that is, players who, you know, no one knows much of anything about.
Sean Kilpatrick, who’s in the running for team MVP (for those of you scoring at home), is the model. When the Nets called him up last season, he was a mystery too. Now, he’s averaging 16.7 points (21.7 per 36 minutes), 4.8 rebounds and nearly three assists per contest. He is, in fact, the NBA’s leading scorer among undrafted players.
“I kept saying ‘there’s another Sean out there, in the D League,’ there’s no doubt about it,” Atkinson told the media after Friday’s practice. “It’s just, can we find that guy? I hope Spencer is that guy. It gives us another chance to look at a guy who’s played pretty darn well in the D League. I thought it was a smart move by Sean [Marks] and his group. Spencer’s got a good feel for the game, good I.Q., and it gives us more depth.”
Dinwiddie, 23, arrives in Brooklyn having played parts of his last two seasons with the Detroit Pistons, but the bulk of those two years in the D-League with the Grand Rapids Drive, and after a trade this summer, with the Windy City Bulls. The former Colorado Buffalo was selected 38th overall in the 2014 draft, five choices after new teammate Joe Harris, and ahead of Kilpatrick, who went undrafted (I know right!).
Dinwiddie is ‘encouraged’ by the performance of his 2014 draft class counterparts, hoping he could ultimately find his way in Brooklyn like those before him.
“Seeing guys from my draft class like S.K., Joe Harris as well. It gives me a lot of encouragement,” the new Net said after his first practice with the team. “My NBA experience, it kind of prepares you for everything that can happen. Just being in the NBA you kind of know what it’s going to be like, know what the grind is like, know what you’ve been through.”
The former First Team All Pac-12 honoree averaged 4.8 points in 13.3 minutes per contest in twelve games with the Pistons last season, and has averages of 4.4 points and 2.7 assists per NBA outing for his career through 46 games, one of them a start.
In the D League, the 6-foot-6 combo guard averaged 15.8 points and 6.5 assists over the course of 28 career appearances (26 starts), but through a recent nine game stretch he scorched the opposition for 19.4 points and 8.1 assists per game, which ultimately landed him in the Black and White.
Among those outstanding performances came against the Long Island Nets where Dinwiddie posted 25 points and 12 assists in a 120-116 win at Barclays Center on November 29.
“Well, I can’t say that it hurt me,” Dinwiddie said with a laugh when talking about the impact that game, then added how he got to Brooklyn so fast. “I packed two bags, got on the flight, got here, did medical testing last night, woke up at six, did some more medical testing this morning, still have some more performance testing to go before the playing but it’s all good – I’m a sleep good tonight for sure.”
Dinwiddie believes he’ll bring, among other attributes, length at the point guard position (a 6’9” wingspan), with an ability to play the two, spotlighting his versatility, a trait shared among young players on the roster (see Caris LeVert, Isaiah Whitehead).
“You’ve got great players on this roster,” Dinwiddie said of the Nets, quickly ticking off the names of his teammates. “A seasoned vet like Randy Foye who’s going to make shots, you’ve got a max player Brook (Lopez), who’s obviously dominant, you’ve got Jeremy (Lin) when he comes back up in here is going to lead this team, and you’ve got a host of young guys who are very talented; S.K., Bojan, and all those guys. I think there’s a lot of talent here, it’s just about it all coming together and getting some wins.”
Dinwiddie graciously added that he’s thankful for the chance to be a Net, as the organization has been eyeing him for years now.
“This is a team that said they’ve liked me from the draft process, from my first couple of years in the league, it’s just amazing to be here honestly,” he said. “I’m very blessed for the opportunity. I don’t know what the immediate future holds for me as far as ‘role,’ or playing time or anything like that. I’m just here to get to work and obviously I want to earn time on the floor, for sure.”
The Nets obviously liked him. They could have waited another three weeks and signed him to a 10-day deal, but instead moved things up: waiving Yogi Ferrell and signing him to a three-year, non-guaranteed deal that sounds a lot like Kilpatrick’s. The hope is he can, as Atkinson said, become “another Sean.”