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Spencer Dinwiddie named finalist for NBA’s Most Improved Player

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Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

To no one’s surprise, Spencer Dinwiddie is a finalist for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. Dinwiddie joins Victory Oladipo (Indiana) and Clint Capela (Houston) as the three nominees for the award.

Dinwiddie, who spent his time in and out of the G-League before joining Brooklyn, came into the season with a purpose. He went into the season with an non-guaranteed contract and was caught in a backcourt logjam, sitting behind D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin in the guard rotation.

But both Lin and Russell missed an extended period time. Lin missed all but the first game of the season and Russell who missed 34 games. Dinwiddie stepped up in their place and averaged 12.6 points and 6.6 assists, starting 58 games out of 80 played. That’s basically double his output last season.

He finished second in the NBA for assists-to-turnover ratio at 4.1 – one spot behind Darren Collison who was at 4.3. He also finished seventh in the NBA for total assists while averaging just 28.8 minutes per game.

He knew he deserved to be in the conversation. We did too.

Then, the playoffs happened. Victor Oladipo happened. That may have changed Spencer’s mind.

For a second straight year, HoopsHype’s Jorge Sierra texted Dinwiddie throughout a playoff game – this year being Game One between the Warriors and Rockets. Sierra asked Dinwiddie how many MIP votes he thinks he’ll get.

“Not nearly enough. Oladipo will win it, and had the best season out of all those I’ve seen in the running. But we’re talking about ‘improved.’ A year to the day of my first game-winner this season (Cleveland), I was in the D-League. LOL. That means nobody wanted me. Every other candidate was either a lotto pick or projected to be a starter already. Nobody thought I was gonna play. I was behind JLin and DLo.”

Indeed. The award is almost surely headed to Indiana and Oladipo, who led the Pacers to a playoff spot while jumping from 15.9 points per game to 23.1. The numbers do not tell the full story of the impact Oladipo had on Indiana.

This is quite fine with Dinwiddie. He’s happy to be part of the conversation – considering how there were hardly any expectations on him before the season.

“I don’t think anybody had any expectations for me before the season. So, anything that was a net positive was going to exceed the expectations,” he told NetsDaily after the season. “You can correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I was necessarily penciled in to play more than 15 minutes [per game]. I’m sure I disappointed people to some extent in certain situations, but that’s all part of the growth.”

Whether he wins or not, he continues to serve as a point of pride for Nets fans.

He won the NBA Skills Competition and serves as a nominee in the MIP conversation. Most importantly – he served as a poster boy for the Brooklyn Nets organization, possessing traits of growth, leadership, good character and a high basketball IQ.

There’s this, too.

For more, Read the full HoopsHype piece here.