First, the groundwork. We all know that Spencer is leaving if he's given a first round grade. That's a lock. But what if he's not? This interview with Brian Howell would seem to indicate that he's coming back. Let's examine what might muddy the waters.
First and foremost, let's recognize that mock drafts at this point in time mean precisely squat. It is correct to note that neither Draft Express nor NBA Draft Dot Net have Spencer listed among their mock draftees. It is also correct to note that neither of them are NBA executives with a choice in either of the two NBA draft rounds, so let's just discard them out of hand. As is often said, it only takes one team to blah blah blah.
Second, let's discard the notion that second round draft picks do not receive guaranteed contracts. They do. A lot. More and more, NBA teams are giving players (especially US college players) AT LEAST a guaranteed first year, and often a second year in order to retain their Bird rights. And that's the point from which we are starting. From an NBA team's perspective, why would we draft Spencer Dinwiddie? If we were an NBA franchise, and we did not have Spencer rated as a first round pick, we would stop typing right now. Because after the injury, he is off our board until further notice. But if we did have Spencer rated as a first round pick before the injury, then we would be very stupid to not draft him.
Finally, let's discard the idea that this is a historically deep draft. Yes, it is true that the top half dozen or so prospects or so are considered true franchise changers. That has been discussed ad nauseum over the last several years. Beyond that, however, the draft is just normal. So if you don't get Jabari Parker at three, you're now getting Doug McDermott fifteen, when last year you would've drafted... Doug McDermott at fifteen. It's the high end talent, not the depth that makes this draft so tantalizing.
And thus begins the hypotheticals. But hypotheticals are fun!
Let's say we're the Lakers. The Lakers are a star driven team with over half of next year's cap tied up in one aging superstar. They have a pretty fluid cap situation beyond that, but they desperately need youth, athleticism, and defense on the perimeter. They also have both draft picks this year, including a likely high first. Spencer does not fit in the Mike D'Antoni style, but Mike D'Antnoni is not likely to be around next year. Spencer definitely fills a need in a potential Kobe/ Pau triangle offense.
Let's say we're the Suns. The Suns have potentially 4 first round picks, giving them a lot of flexibility (they will not likely keep all of those picks, but shut up already). They also have what is purported to be the best training staff in the league; an environment in which Spencer could rehab and thrive.
Let's say we're the 76ers. Sam Hinkie has amassed six (SIX) second round picks. Again, they won't keep all of those, but there's definitely room to take a flier on a player like Dinwiddie. You can't tell me that a backcourt of Michael Carter-Williams and Spencer Dinwiddie is not enticing. Two 6'6" combo guards that can both handle the ball and score the ball PLUS play strong defense sounds like a fantastic starting point, especially if they keep Thaddeus Young, who is a weird combo forward (whose game I enjoy). And they are comfortable with knee injuries after trading for Nerlens Noel. That is a squad.
Let's say we're the Pacers. This is the team where I've long said where Spencer fits best. A Dinwiddie/ Stephenson/ George/ West/ Hibbert lineup would easily be the longest and best defensive team in the league. They are capped out with their various pieces and can only upgrade via cheap veterans and savvy draft picks. That's not a bad thing- they're an excellent team. But it is the reality of the new NBA.
Let's say we're the Nuggets. Actually, let's not, because Josh Kroenke is very stupid and never does anything right, so he will obviously not draft Spencer Dinwiddie.
The point of this thought exercise is that a smart team who deems Spencer worthy of a first round pick will draft him, either late in the first or in the second. They will communicate to him that they will give him a year or two GUARANTEED plus a team option so they can see if he's healed. If he can play, then that team will get a 6'6" point guard on a cheap contract with minimal commitment. Even first rounders only get two years guaranteed now with the new CBA.
I am not advising Spencer Dinwiddie. If I were, I would advise him to enter the draft based on his potential contract options, not his potential draft position; and I think he will, despite what he's said to the media. And if I were an NBA personnel guy, I would draft Spencer Dinwiddie on the come line HARD.
For everything said above, I cannot envision Spencer Dinwiddie returning to the Colorado Buffaloes. And I can only wish him the best.