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Dinwiddie was right up there for NBA’s Most Improved

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Congratulations, Victor Oladipo

2018 NBA Awards - Red Carpet Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Turner Sports

Monday’s 2018 NBA Awards show was the final reflection on the 2017-2018 season before the attention shifts towards summer league and free agency.

For the NetsSpencer Dinwiddie last night was bittersweet. While he lost out to Victor Oladipo for the Most Improved Players award — as expected, he was the only Net to be represented and a third place finish was, in itself, an accomplishment. As they say at the post-Oscars parties, it’s an honor to be nominated.

He received 50 votes. Indiana’s Victor Oladipo ran away with the awards (499 votes). Houston’s Clint Capela finished with 99 votes and , Dinwiddie had 50. Andre Drummond of Detroit and Julius Randle of the Lakers finished out the top five.

“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 final game of 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].

Dinwiddie’s impact was felt, improvement undeniable. He earned the honor of being a nominee by averaging 12.6 points and 6.6 assists, starting 58 games out of 80 played. That’s double his output from last year as he became the next man up when Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell got injured.

Here’s the game that put the league on notice... 22 points, eight assists, five rebounds and four 3-pointers in a win over the Cavaliers early in the season.

Like so many of his teammates, Dinwiddie exhibited a chip-on-my-shoulder attitude.

“I like to fancy myself as the hardest worker in the league, so the point guard situation never changed my approach,” he said.

And so, the 25-year-old went from a (then) D-League prospect to starter in the NBA. He became the most clutch player on the Nets — one of the most clutch in the NBA. And for what it’s worth, he gave the Nets a presence in the national spotlight, winning the 2018 Skills Competition at the All-Star Game, where he was the only Nets rep there too.

It’s the little things that matter for a team that received zero national attention this past season. And, a kudos to Dinwiddie for seizing the opportunity.

But don’t be fooled. He wanted to win this once he knew he was in the mix...

Regardless of the third place finish, he was crucial for the Nets this season and he’s now a respected name in the NBA. From the business side, he’s earned himself a check and job security when he’s eligible for an extension on December 8.

His performance and nomination, of course, is also a tribute to the Nets’ development program ... and it too is getting noticed.