Spencer Dinwiddie received quite the birthday present today. The former Buffaloes point guard was named to Zach Lowe’s famous Luke Walton All-Stars, which honors “role players and journeymen thriving in unexpected ways.”
Dinwiddie is playing the best basketball of his life in his fourth NBA season with his third team. Dinwiddie spent time with the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls in his first two seasons, but they never gave him a chance. The Brooklyn Nets, however, took a chance on him because they were desperate for any talent whatsoever. They thought they would find a bench player at best, but Dinwiddie has grown into an essential piece on a promising squad.
In 78 games this season, Dinwiddie has set career highs in all of the following (but not limited to): points (12.6 per game), assists (6.5), rebounds (3.3), minutes (28.7) and player efficiency (16.0). Dinwiddie was also invited to the Taco Bell Skills Challenge at All-Star weekend, which he won in stunning fasion. He’s also grown a knack for taking over games late and hitting clutch shots.
Lowe writes in praise of Dinwiddie’s presence both on and off the court:
In Detroit and Chicago, Dinwiddie developed a potentially career-killing reputation as a yappy know-it-all. “I learned when you’re a second-rounder, you’re not allowed to be vocal,” Dinwiddie says. “It was taboo in Detroit.”
The Nets discovered he deserved the rap. “It wasn’t great at first,” says Kenny Atkinson, the team’s coach. “It was, ‘Oh, this guy has all the answers.’”
Dinwiddie didn’t expect to play much with Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russellahead of him. But Lin’s season ended in Brooklyn’s first game, and Russell went out with a knee injury before Thanksgiving. Suddenly, the Nets were Dinwiddie’s team. He made the most of it, working for a two- or three-month stretch as Brooklyn’s best player. Brooklyn has played its best, by far, with Dinwiddie as solo point guard -- without Russell on the floor, per NBA.com.
On his game, Lowe writes:
He has proved a canny playmaker with a reliable (for awhile, anyway) 3-pointer. Dinwiddie operates in languid dribbles, with long spaces between them. Defenders can’t tell if he is about to pick up his dribble, and Dinwiddie preys on their indecision. He senses when help defenders are flat-footed.
He delights in attacking big men on switches, bringing the ball out and dancing with it before darting forward. “I don’t feel any guard can defend me,” Dinwiddie says, “so I feel for sure that no big man can.”
Dinwiddie has found a nice balance between scoring and playmaking. He looks past the two central defenders in the pick-and-roll, waiting for the help defender behind them to slide into the lane. Upon that fatal step, Dinwiddie slings crosscourt magic to a waiting shooter -- while that help defender is leaning the wrong way.
His patient manipulation has clashed at times with Atkinson’s run-and-gun ethos; Brooklyn plays at its slowest pace with Dinwiddie alone at the controls. “They want me to play faster, but I don’t know,” he says. “I like to see everything. Once I see everything, I know what is gonna happen. I’m rarely wrong.”
It has been so great to follow DInwiddie all his career and we’re so excited to see how long and productive it will be. We’re also gleefully waiting for Brooklyn to become a playoff-quality team so more people will recognize and appreciate him. And, of course, we wish a happy birthday to the Buffs icon.