BROOKLYN, N.Y. — We’ve heard so much about Spencer Dinwiddie this season. His play is potentially worthy of Most Improved Player consideration at the near-halfway part of the season.
His coach thinks so.
“I think he’s becoming more of a point guard every day. He’s still a young player, he’s still developing. Obviously, he’s not a high-risk ball handler. He’s a little more conservative, he wants to hold it and make the right play which we’re fine with. I do think he’s progressing more in terms of risk-taking - calculated risks. He’s a high assist, low turnover guy,” said Kenny Atkinson.
Dinwiddie currently ranks first in the NBA for assist-to-turnover ratio, ahead of the likes of Chris Paul and other elite point guards. He’s 12th in the NBA averaging 6.5 assists in 27.5 minutes per game. He has gotten fewer minutes than all the players ahead of him on the list.
“I mean, it’s not meant to be a conservative approach. Obviously I’m never trying to turn the ball over, but it’s more listening to coaches, watching film and then you just make your guesses as to when guys are going to be open by reading the defenses and seeing what they’re going to do. The majority of my decisions have been right so far, so that’s really all it comes down to. It’s nothing more complicated than that,” Dinwiddie told NetsDaily about what his coach described as his “conservative“ approach.
His facilitating hasn’t been an issue. The Nets are noticeably better with him dictating the flow of the offense, and he’s come up clutch in big moments. However, he’s settled for some tough shots, some that have come way beyond the 3-point line.
“Shot selection – it ebbs and it floats. I think he had a period there where he was taking a lot of tough shots. Quite honestly a ton of off-the-dribble threes that were contested,” said Atkinson.
“To me, Spencer is elite when he gets to the rim. He’s an elite athlete and he finishes well. So, we’d like to see more of that and I do think when he gets to the rim he makes the right decision. But it’s nice to see his confidence growing. He hit those two tough shots against Minnesota.
“Those aren’t coach’s plays. Those are players that makes plays. He needs confidence. He’s a guy that’s still a young player looking for that confidence, and I think that’s where he makes the next step.”
We’ve heard so much about Dinwiddie’s —and other players’— confidence growing this year. After his game-winner against the Cavaliers, he discussed how the coaching staff has given him the green light to take shots that he’s comfortable with, specifically player of development coach, Adam Harrington, who he’s worked on those deep threes with.
In Brooklyn’s last game against Minnesota, he hit a tough fadeaway jumper over Taj Gibson to put Brooklyn ahead with 9.7 seconds left.
This is where the intangible things come into play. Brooklyn’s coaching staff has done well taking players others thought were marginal players and making them into role players. The young guys in particular taking leaps, specifically guys like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Caris LeVert and even Dinwiddie who’s only 24-years-old.
A large portion of this obviously comes in the gym, working with the coaches, but if your mind isn’t in the right place then it’s difficult to grow in any facets of life, particularly basketball.
“In terms of confidence and taking my game to another level, that all comes down to development because you just do it night in and night out and being consistent against some of the best teams in the league, like the Celtics.
“In terms of development – they’re just very targeted, pay attention to detail and know exactly what they want you to work on,” said Dinwiddie in the ND interview.
He admits while his confidence has grown with an increased role, it’s a make-or-miss league. If you’re making then everybody loves you. But if you’re missing, well, rally the pitchforks.
“The separation in this league is very small. You’re facing 450 of the best basketball players in the world. The separation is small, a lot of it comes down to situational role and that confidence to execute. I mean, everybody’s happy with me right now but I just missed one against the Celtics.
“Make one, miss one. I made one against the Cavs, missed another against the Pacers. That’s the way it goes, but getting down on yourself and thinking you’re going to miss the next one is how you can’t approach it. To a certain extent you can’t care about the noise. You just have to go out there and make the best play for your team.”
Don’t get it mixed up, though. Dinwiddie claims that his confidence has grown in his shot, but he’s never doubted himself as a player. Not through being traded by the Pistons, cut by the Bulls or traveling on buses in the D-League. And certainly not as a starting point guard for the Brooklyn Nets.
“Being in the role that I’ve been in the last 30 games or so – just getting comfortable doing what the coaches want me to do. Obviously your confidence rises, but in terms of my beliefs in my talent my confidence hasn’t really changed at all,” said Dinwiddie.
That’s where we stand today. So far, the development of Dinwiddie among other players on the team have been heavily attributed to the intangible things such as confidence-building. With his journey specifically as a basketball vagabond to a starter in this league, it’s easy to forget that he’s only 24-years-old.
And it’s easy to forget he’s on a non-guaranteed deal that won’t be guaranteed until Sunday night!
He’s part of the young core, but he’s certainly growing at a fast rate. Confidence from the staff and confidence from within has played a big role in his success thus far.