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Is role change or lack of aggressiveness the culprit in Dinwiddie dip?

Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Spencer Dinwiddie scored eight points on 3-of-11 shooting (2-of-9 from deep) and handed out nine assists in the Nets win over the Bulls Saturday night, about what he’s been posting since the return of D’Angelo Russell.

As Greg Logan reports, the dip in numbers has dampened, just a bit, his position as the “poster boy for the Nets development program.” So is the dropoff about him or about playing next to DLo ... or maybe a bit of both.

“He just became a less assertive player, and that was not the message from us, especially when we made the change,” Atkinson told Logan. “It was more like, ‘You’re going to play similar minutes and we want you to be that assertive guy.’ I felt like there were games where he’s kind of stepped back, not driving nearly as much. It’s a little bit perplexing, and he and I have had a lot of different conversations about it.”

And what does Dinwiddie say about it?

“People keep asking me that. It’s almost in a loaded fashion. ‘How do you feel about the lineup change? Did things change for you?’ Obviously, they did. But that’s part of the game.

“Things changed when we traded Tyler Zeller and inserted Jarrett Allen. That’s been the story of our season. People have been hurt for an extended period of time. With every injury and every lineup change, everything changes. It just so happened me coming off the bench was the latest change.”

He denies any rift with his backcourt mate.

“I think it’s fine,” he said. “He’s a great guy, great teammate. We’re just going to try and continue to figure things out from a winning perspective as a unit. That’s what this is all about.”

Logan broke the season down into three parts: Before the All-Star Game, where he won the Skills Competition, Dinwiddie averaged 13.0 points and 6.9 assists. Then, in the first nine games after the break, his scoring dipped to 9.0 points even as his assists climbed to 7.9. Finally in the 12 games since he was moved out of the starting lineup, Dinwiddie is at 9.9 and 4.4. During that same period, he’s shooting just under 40 percent overall and 36.5 from deep. Over the last five, though, he’s at 35.5 and 31.8.

All that raises the question, will he be back? The Nets will have Jeremy Lin healthy next year and DLo and Caris LeVert capable of playing the 1 or the 2. Dinwiddie is one of the league’s best bargain and probably THE best bargain of any player not on a rookie contract. He isn’t even fully guaranteed till January... at the veterans’ minimum!

The Nets would miss the steadying influence he can provide and his intelligence, not mention that clutch gene so evident before the Break. It could be a dilemma, the kind you have during a rebuild when GM’s accumulate the best players ... and you get an unbalanced roster.