Kyrie is down, KD is not coming back and the Nets have a five game cushion for the playoffs. So who ya gonna call? Well, certainly Caris and Joe. But we all know —and he knows— the difference maker is likely to be Spencer Dinwiddie. He’s scored the most points this season, dished the most assists ... and expressed the most confidence.
As he told Tom Dowd of the Brooklyn Nets official site days before Kyrie Irving went down...
“When you line me up, me vs. you, there’s nobody else here, it’s me and you, there’s going to be a king and a queen in this scenario and I’m the king every time, you feel a certain way about it. Your confidence is at a certain type of level.”
Swag on, Spencer!
“But this is me, and being a guy, and I talk about the whole one-on-one thing a lot, and not to overuse it, but being able to be like, ‘I’ve never lost one-on-one. I’ve played all these players. I’ve done all these things.’ It grows that confidence.“
But it’s beyond that one-on-one mentality, he says. It’s what he can do for his team, no matter when he’s called, no matter what he’s asked to do...
“I’m like, ‘bro, I plan on making this contract look like a bargain too.’ Who else is averaging 21 or 22 (points) and 6 (assists) getting $10 million a year. Start me, I’m at 27 and 7. Put me on the bench I’m at 20 and 3 or whatever the hell it is.
“There’s nobody else doing that, with the flexibility to be able to be like, oh, I’ll play with the star. I’ll be the star. I’ll take the No. 1 option in (Joel) Embiid, take the double team, or I’ll be the third option. Whatever you need, I can do. I can be a spot-up shooter, shoot 40 percent.“
And he argues, his shooting percentage —currently at 30.7 percentage from deep— can sometimes be a function of taking it for the team.
“Granted, when I start shooting heaves, my percentage goes in the tank. But that’s with everybody. It’s just a lot of people aren’t willing to shoot those. A lot of people are so worried about their percentage they won’t take the selfless 3.”
“There was a play in the Detroit game, I was actually just talking to (video coordinator) Trevor (Hendry) about it. The ball gets knocked out, it’s near halfcourt. There’s like two seconds on the shot clock. A lot of people eat that possession for their own percentage. But we’re either late fourth quarter or overtime at this point.
“But literally the only thing I do, I know I can hit the rim. I probably can’t make this, because I’m picking it up off the floor, so all I did was just pass it to the rim. It clanks off the rim and we get the rebound, we get an extra possession. I think Kyrie ends up scoring. That’s a missed 3 for me. That’s, ‘ah, he’s not shooting 36 (percent), he’s shooting 35 now. Now it’s 32.’ But for me, that might have been what won the game, you know.
“Obviously Kyrie had 45, so there’s a lot more that goes on, but you need those type of plays and you need those type of people that are on the team that are willing to do (stuff) like that so you can win a game.”
Dinwiddie also explained the difference between his confidence level now and when he was with Detroit and Chicago where he felt pressure just to stay on the roster.
“It’s also business. How do I stick? How do I make sure I can get through this year and get to the next year on the deal and make sure I didn’t cause any problems and make sure I ran the play exactly the way they wanted me to run in exactly the right spot.
“But the more that they (the Nets coaches) were like, ‘Look, we need you to go out there and make plays. If you turn it over, you turn it over, but we need you to make plays. Take chances. Go do that. We need you to do this. We need you to do that.’ As the role has expanded, I just go out there and try to do what’s asked.”
Now, of course, it’s going to be different. It will be the next level, leading the team in playoff contention and then, hopefully, the playoffs.
“For me, I wanted to experience winning, especially in an environment where I enjoy being. Because my two years in Detroit, it wasn’t fun for me to be there. Whereas my three years, now four, in Brooklyn, it’s been fun for me to be here, just in terms of a work environment. So being able to potentially win with Kyrie, KD and them and that stuff, having that possibly on the horizon and enjoying my work environment, enjoying the city, that’s what’s important to me. Whatever comes with it is what comes with it and you deal with it just like anything else”
At the end of the day, Dinwiddie also wants to reward his coach for his confidence.
“[W]ithout him saying it’s OK to make mistakes, go out there and play, this guy doesn’t happen. We’ve talked about the business of basketball, we’ve talked about Detroit, we’ve talked about not being drafted (in the first round). You have to come in, you have to do the little stuff, you have to pick up 94 feet, you have to not turn it all over, all that stuff. Being in a situation where they’re like, ‘Nah, go play. Go be dynamic. Whatever you see, go do it.’ This is the fruit of that kind of uncaging.”