Spencer Dinwiddie has been playing out of his mind right now, and he has the absence of Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert to thank. These two absences have put the brunt of the offensive workload on Dinwiddie, who has led the team in scoring in seven of their last nine games.
Dinwiddie shut down Kemba Walker and dropped 32 points and 11 assists on the Boston Celtics to help Brooklyn win for their fifth game out of six last Sunday at Barclays Center. Dinwiddie is thriving under pressure, proving and cementing himself as a stable offensive weapon for Atkinson’s deep offense.
A lack of opportunity may have held back his raw numbers in prior seasons, but Dinwiddie has been ruthlessly efficient when given command of the offense ever since he arrived in Brooklyn. When he is on the court, his speed and ability to draw fouls make the Nets especially difficult to defend. When he sits, they fail to effectively compete. Dinwiddie’s improved scoring ability is evident as his scoring average increased from 17.1 ppg last season to 20.2 this season. He hasn’t scored less than 20 points in the last six games. Entering Sunday, he had scored 23.4 PPG and dropped 7.3 APG since Irving left the lineup, and defenses have taken notice.
The Boston Celtics experimented with almost every strategy of pick-and-roll defense against Dinwiddie on Sunday, varying from traditional drops to switching outright. They all failed. Dinwiddie finished the game with 32 points and 11 assists, and Boston had no answer. The closest thing they had to an answer was one of the highest honors a scorer can receive: true double-teams in the form of blitzed screens.
The only issue for Dinwiddie is that moving forward, with the returns of Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert, his playing time may be shortened. That becomes truer next season when Kevin Durant returns to the fold. While Brooklyn’s offense has struggled without Dinwiddie on the floor, the Nets will soon have to realize that they have much more money committed to Irving, LeVert, and Durant and that cramming a 32 percent 3-point shooter onto a roster with them is hardly a good option.
But for now, the Nets are able to reap the benefits of Dinwiddie’s pure scoring ability and look to gain the momentum that comes with a hot hand.