So much has been written about Spencer Dinwiddie’s past —the career-threatening knee injury that pushed him into the second round back in 2014, his time on the bench in Detroit, he relegation to the Bulls G League affiliate, then his resurrection in Brooklyn.
In fact, it was four years ago Wednesday that the Pistons, still in need of point guard, traded him to the Bulls for Cameron Bairstow, who never played in the NBA again. Now, of course, he’s a top NBA point guard who’s proven that he can fill whatever role given him. As James Herbert of CBS Sports writes, Dinwiddie is the Nets “shape-shifter,” as apt a description as any given the 27-year-old.
Now, with the prospect of a healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the court next season, Dinwiddie’s role is once again at a crossroads. How will he fit with KD, Kyrie and Caris LeVert? Is there a place for a pick-and-roll guard like him in Brooklyn? Is he a trade piece that will get the Nets the “third star” everyone talks about?
Dinwiddie has no doubt he will fit. It all boils down to one thing...
“First, I’m a basketball player,” he said, “and I try to have the most well-rounded game possible. But people forget when I was recruited out of high school, I was recruited as a passer.
“With Kyrie and KD, if you’re telling me I get to come out here and pass to two phenomenal scorers and get 10 assists a game and maybe be in second gear a lot of times with my scoring, I’m fine,” he added. “If I average 14 and 10 and we win a title, but KD averages 35 and Ky averages 25 or whatever it would be, like, I’m good with that. I’m more than fine with that. That’s more in line with how I played the game growing up than it is a lot of the other spurts and seasons that I’ve put together since I’ve been older.”
And he won’t give any quarter on the criticism that he can’t shoot. Sure, he was shooting a mere 30.8 percent from three when the season shut down, but he tells Herbert you have to put that in context.
“You can either make it seem like I’m a horrible shooter or you can put it in context and tell people how good of a shooter I actually am.”
Herbert checked it out and found on catch-and-shoot three’s, the shots that would become more important next to Durant and Irving, Dinwiddie is shooting a “perfectly respectable 37.3 percent.”
Despite his success, Dinwiddie still has a chip securely fastened to his shoulder. It drives him. But he is also, as Kenny Atkinson told Herbert before he was let go, Dinwiddie is “prideful.” He knows his value, knows his market, knows what he can do when called upon.
In a 22-game stretch without Irving and LeVert, Dinwiddie took over as the Nets go-to guy and made a success out of it. In that stretch, Herbert recounts, he averaged 25.7 points, 7.1 assists and 3.4 rebounds. He dropped 41 points on the Spurs and 39 on the Hawks in back-to-back games.
He had hoped for an All-Star berth in part, he noted, because “that shit’s in Chicago,” home of the Bulls.
Herbert also writes about his relationship with the Nets other development project Joe Harris and in doing so, reveals another nickname Dinwiddie picked up. Harris told Herbert that Dinwiddie “drove me nuts” at first. Why? He had an answer for everything, to the point that his teammates nicknamed him Siri. Harris quickly found out that no one was more diligent than Dinwiddie at HSS. On the court, Harris added, Dinwiddie knew when a player needed a touch.
“You spend enough time with Spencer, you love him,” Harris said. “He’s like my brother now. I love that guy to death and I would do anything for him.”
And Herbert reveals that after last season, Dinwiddie quietly gave his playoff share to team staff. As his high school coach in Los Angeles told Herbert, Derrick Taylor said Dinwiddie “really at heart cares about people.”
There’s a lot more in Herbert’s profile, interviews with his coaches from AAU to the Pistons. Stan Van Gundy admits to his regrets. Bottom line, though, is how Dinwiddie understands legacy, understands his journey.
Dinwiddie can imagine all the previous versions of himself lined up next to one another, year by year, Herbert writes. He’d like to tell all of them not to worry, that “you’ll be who you think you are,” as long as you “keep the process right.”
So far, so good.
- The not-so-rapid rise of Spencer Dinwiddie, and the case he has to make - James Herbert - CBS Sports