Improbable? sure. Impossible? nah.
That’s basically the story of Spencer Dinwiddie’s season. Tonight at 8 p.m. ET, he’ll try his hand at the Taco Bell Skills Challenge at All-Star Weekend, another milestone in a year that’s already seen him become the savior of an injury-plagued season, the most reliable clutch shooter the Nets have had since Joe Johnson a couple of years back, an avatar for Brooklyn’s development strategy. And as Greg Logan writes, a leader, on and off the court, despite his youth. He is, after all, 24.
“It’s unfortunate they got hurt, those are my guys, I wish they hadn’t,” Dinwiddie told Logan, speaking about the injuries to Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell. “But all I can do is try to make the best of it, and it’s been a fun ride this first half of the season.
“It’s fun to be tasked with making plays and being allowed that freedom. It’s everything I really dreamed of in the NBA. Everybody wants to be that dynamic guy. For me, it’s been a lot of fun, and it’s a blessing because it’s not lost on me that I wasn’t supposed to have any of that this year.”
But he did. The Nets essentially picked him up out of the clearance bin. He was NBA overstock in the G-League, the league’s Wal-Mart when the Nets picked him last year. Since he was thrust into a starting job, he averaged 14 points, seven assists with a league leading 4.2 assist-to-turnover ratio. As Logan notes, he’s hit four go-ahead baskets in the final minute, including three game-winners in the final 10 seconds, plus four more tying or go-ahead baskets in the final minute of a loss.
He’s the team’s philosopher. He loves to talk and he makes sense, too.
“If you really want to go after something, you have to keep hammering at the stone whether or not the first hit or the 100th hit breaks the stone. You’ve got to believe that the stone is going to break.”
There’s also a lot of pride. A LOT.
“It doesn’t matter about the big games or the game-winners or the assist-to-turnovers ratio or the All-Star Skills Challenge or all these things that are happening. All the metrics and stats and things that say I’m playing at such and such level. As soon as I falter, they say, ‘Ahh, see, we knew he wasn’t really that guy.’ There’s never the benefit of the doubt.”
His teammates, Logan writes, call him “Siri” because “because they say I know things,” Dinwiddie said. (His fiance’, Arielle Roberson, is also about to him, “Dad.” The two are expecting their first child.)
It all leads to respect, the kind you get when you’re the leader.
And it’s not just on the court. Medill News Chicago reports that Dinwiddie and fellow Angeleno, DeMar DeRozan, were at Compton’s Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, working with kids. Compton, that legendary crib of hip hop, is where DeRozan grew up.
Dinwiddie is from “ritzy” Woodland Hills. As he notes, that’s part of what drives him to give back, through individual charity work and the Dinwiddie Family Foundation.
“[It’s] just about helping the less fortunate and being able to lend a hand in any way possible,” Dinwiddie said. “Being from L.A., you understand the differences in some communities, and you want to help.”
He also appreciates the journey that got him where he is today, where he could be tonight and hopefully a few thousand tomorrows.
“It’s been a crazy journey from being drafted while I was hurt, to going to the G-League, to not showing signs as a G-League player,” Dinwiddie told Medill’s Robbie Weinstein. “To get back and be playing well, it’s been a heck of a journey and it’s been a blessing.”
For him and for us.
- Dinsanity! Spencer Dinwiddie running the show for Nets - Greg Logan - Newsday
- THEIR STARS RISING, DEROZAN AND DINWIDDIE GIVE BACK TO COMPTON - Robbie Weinstein - Medill News Chicago