Brooklyn Nets guard, Spencer Dinwiddie, is lighting up the scoreboards and leading his team to victory as the several key Nets players recover from injury.
After a very successful free agency where the Brooklyn Nets signed not one but two superstar players in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the team got off to an unexpected rough start, only winning four of their first eleven games. While Coach Kenny Atkinson and his staff were prepared to go the entire season without Durant, the Nets were not well equipped to stay afloat if their other superstar got hurt. Or so we thought.
Kyrie Irving played several games fighting through the pain of a right shoulder impingement before the team eventually shut him down. Irving has not played a game since November 14th (a loss to the Denver Nuggets) and is still without a timetable to return. Since then, it has been the guard that’s been in Brooklyn all along who’s taken charge.
In the wake of Irving’s absence, Spencer Dinwiddie has taken the reigns of the offense, and the team has flourished. In the ten games since Dinwiddie has taken over, the Nets are 7-3, and he is averaging 24.9 ppg ranking tenth in the NBA, and seventh among guards over that span.
Dinwiddie seems to come alive in the second half. Over the same stretch, he is averaging 13ppg in the second half. Recently, during a 130-118 road win over the hapless Hawks, he accumulated 18 of his 24 points after halftime.
In the seven wins since Spencer Dinwiddie took over the starting point guard duties, he’s averaging 7 points in the fourth quarter. He has a very high basketball I.Q. and plays with confidence. Dinwiddie wants the ball in hands with the game on the line because he’s always confident that he will make the right play, and Atkinson has displayed that same confidence in his young guard time and time again.
During a timeout in a tied game against the Cavs with 6.2 seconds remaining in the final quarter, Atkinson called a play, but Dinwiddie admittedly didn’t run it, “Kenny had drawn up a great play, and I didn’t run it.” as reported by Alex Schiffer of The Athletic . The play resulted in what was ultimately the game-winning shot by Dinwiddie just inside the three-point line and earned the Nets a fourth straight win.
It’s not just Spencer Dinwiddie who has increased his production over this ten-game stretch. Several key players have improved their play and scoring output since Irving’s departure from the lineup. Over the last ten games, Joe Harris has increased his scoring by 3.2 points per game, Jarrett Allen has enjoyed a nice boost from 9.3 to 14.9, and even Garrett Temple has nearly doubled his average from the first eleven games playing alongside Irving from 7.5 to 13.1 ppg.
This is not a knock on Kyrie Irving, he is a very talented player in the prime of his career, but he’s dealing with a mysterious shoulder injury.
With so much roster turnover during the off-season, and the team getting off to such a sluggish start to begin the year in addition to losing Caris Levert to a torn ligament in his right thumb nine games into the season, no one could have objectively predicted such an instant turnaround for the Nets.