Back in 2016 when Spencer Dinwiddie was on the Bulls’ Summer League and preseason teams, he was cut in the last game of preseason, passed over in favor of Dwayne Wade, Rajon Rondo, Jerian Grant, Michael Carter-Williams, Isaiah Canaan, Denzel Valentine I’m including too, and finally Cam Payne wasn’t on the team yet but not hard to predict GarPax would’ve preferred Payne too. Two years later is there ANYONE who would take ANY of those other guys over Dinwiddie? It’s one thing to pick the wrong guy over another guy, like in a coin flip, but GarPax flipped the coin several times and it landed wrong each time.
I went back and looked at a few old BaB 2016 articles from the Dinwiddie Era. I’m recalling who thought he was good and who thought he was bad. Those of you who thought he was going to be bad, no hard feelings! I’m magnanimously trying not to let your past mistakes give me a closed mind when I read your new opinions. Those of you who thought he was going to be good, take your victory lap! Welcome to the club. I shake your hand and salute your good judgement.
Now Dinwiddie’s signed a three-year, $34M contract extension with a third-year player option. Happy that he’s gotten some financial security and that he’s found a home. His elite offensive skills are driving and getting to the line, though he took care of the ball at an elite level last year and a little down this year. He gets fouled on 15% of his shot attempts, and he’s shooting 70% at the rim this year, both rates in the 95th percentile for combo guards (as he’s defined on Cleaning the Glass ), and he takes most of his shot attempts at the rim. Overall, 56.5% from 2 for 100th percentile, and a decent 36.7% from 3 for 60th percentile. Typically he functions as the PG; Nets’ drive-and-kick-swing-the-ball-cycle-it-through offense often starts with a Dinwiddie drive.
Dinwiddie’s success story is interesting to me, along with elite sharpshooter Joe Harris, fringe guys the Nets picked up off the scrap heap, gave them a chance and got a good player for nothing. Added to that you’ve got lower first round or second round picks like Caris LeVert (dislocated foot but expected back this year) who was looking like a future all star this year (more highlights against Knicks), Jarrett Allen looks like their starting 5 for the next ten years, fan favorite rookie Rodi Kurucs, I’m not much for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson but he’s a good defender. So there are a decent handful of players found at low cost that have worked hard, and Nets with coach Kenny Atkinson’s well-regarded development program has helped to develop them into decent players. In free agency this past summer I liked the Ed Davis, Shabazz Napier, and Treveon Graham(out with hamstring injury) signings too. They were at or around the minimum, they’re NBA players, Bulls could’ve taken a shot at one of them.
GM Sean Marks has also been one of the most active in taking on bad salary for picks. The first couple years of their rebuild, that was pretty much all he could do. But they got Denver’s 2019 first round pick for taking on Kenneth Faried, got a second round pick from Phoenix for taking on Jared Dudley, Toronto’s 2018 first round pick (who became Dzanan Musa, stashed on Long Island) for taking on Demarre Carroll.
Add it up and you’ve got a bunch of small, smart decisions that Marks may be able to consolidate into a trade for a star in the future.
Nets don’t have any stars yet (though LeVert I think had really put it together and would have won Most Improved), they were hoping it was going to be D’Angelo Russell, who I’ve been down on, but he’s playing well lately. He’s cut down on his turnovers and looks great when he’s making his threes and midrange shots. He still doesn’t get to the rim very much. The other guy the Nets paid a little more to acquire is a decent 3&D wing in Allen Crabbe, who got a crazy big RFA contract offer from Sean Marks, Blazers matched, and then Marks traded for Crabbe first chance he got in probably his most questionable transaction so far. Then I look at the Bulls at how thin the roster is outside of Markkanen, Carter, LaVine (now out 2-4 weeks), and Dunn and Portis are rotation level, it is an interesting contrast on how Nets and Bulls are, shall we say philosophically approaching their rebuilds, and the different effort level each front office is giving to the smaller decisions and even just deciding on the number of decisions that need to be made. Going into this year, I think many people would have favored the Bulls’ nucleus over with the higher-end talent over the Nets’, but now about a third of the way through the season I’m not so sure. So of course Bulls will probably win tonight with the Nets, winners of six straight, traveling from BK last night after a great win against the Lakers.
Gametime is Wednesday 7pm Central on WGN, though I recommend the Nets’ YES broadcast, especially if Ian Eagle and Sarah Kustok and / or Richard Jefferson have the call.
[Thanks to Kaboot for today’s game preview. If you’re interested in doing one please sign up! -yfbb]