When the 2019 NBA season kicked off on October 23rd, Brooklyn Nets fans everywhere were anticipating the grand arrival of their new, superstar point guard, Kyrie Irving. Kyrie didn’t wait long to illustrate his offensive impact, dropping 50 points in his first game, becoming only the 5th player to score 50 or more in a season opener in NBA history, as the Nets lost a fierce battle in OT to the Timberwolves 127-126.
His offensive output would continue. Over 11 games that he played and started prior to getting plagued by a shoulder injury, Kyrie went on to put up an average of 28.5 PPG along with 7.2 APG and 5.4 RPG, a stat line that surely looks very complete yet oddly enough, was overshadowed by a meager 4-7 team record that was capped off with a three-game losing streak on the road (ESPN.com).
But with Kyrie’s departure and Caris LeVert sidelined with a thumb injury, a familiar, bright starlet reemerged onto the scene for the Nets, just like he did last season alongside former teammate D’Angelo Russell.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Spencer Dinwiddie, is smoking hot right now and shooting lights out, leading the Nets to a 5-3 record since Kyrie’s absence and averaging 25.0 PPG, 7.3 APG, 3.3 RPG along with 1.0 SPG and 1.0 BPG over the course of all nine games he’s started (ESPN). The 26-year-old has taken the reins with confidence and has shown everyone in the league once again why he shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Dinwiddie’s offensive upside has been highlighted by his tenacious driving ability and deadly precision around the perimeter, shooting 35.5% from behind the arc as a starter (ESPN). In addition, his scoring approach and unique style of play have genuinely been a difference-maker. As Nets announcer Ian Eagle stated this past Friday when the Nets hosted the Celtics, “Spencer Dinwiddie is very creative, especially in isolation settings.”
Dinwiddie dropped 32 points with 11 assists and 5 rebounds in their big win against the Celtics, following that up with yet another monster 29-point outing accompanied by 4 assists and 6 rebounds in their 3-point loss to Miami on Sunday (ESPN).
That being said, his most significant impact hasn’t been his scoring and one-on-one play, but rather his ability to maximize the success of all the versatile, role players he has around him. Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris, DeAndre Jordan, along with Taurean Prince and Garrett Temple, have been thriving around Dinwiddie’s play and for a good reason. He opens the floor and creates space for his big men to score, using his excellent court vision and trusting his profound grasp of the squad’s chemistry to find his teammates for high percentage opportunities unselfishly. Utilizing the team’s full strength has fueled the Nets to win 5 of their last 7 games, a complete 180 after possessing a record that was below .500 (ESPN).
In a YES Network interview during the press conference following their fourth straight victory coming on the road against Cleveland, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson stated that the key to their recent success without Kyrie has been the chemistry the team has implemented in their playing style.
“It’s how connected these guys are and it helps that there are guys that have been here for a long time and I think that continuity helps. GT (Garrett Temple) is kind of like the new guy in that crew, TP (Taurean Prince) too. But we got guys that have been here that understand what we’re doing and that helps a lot.”
The Nets have rediscovered how underappreciated great chemistry can be and how influential it is towards building a recipe for success through Spencer Dinwiddie’s recent play.
But the biggest question of all is what will happen when Kyrie comes back? The difference between these two point guards right now is that Dinwiddie has found the right balance between taking over games with his scoring whilst using other vital parts of his offensive skill set to bring out the strengths of his teammates to collectively control and dominate opponents to victory. Unlike Dinwiddie, Kyrie has naturally balled out in style, yet has not found the “connection” to use the various weapons he has all around him to win games.
However, Kyrie’s return is still not clear, so for now, the Nets look primed to push their way past .500 behind the spectacular play and leadership of Spencer Dinwiddie. Despite dropping loads of cash to get two mega superstars during the offseason, it turns out that what the Nets needed all along was already on their team, to begin with. Even without Kyrie, KD, and Caris LeVert, the Nets look like a playoff team behind Mr. Dinwiddie and deservedly so.