Isaiah Whitehead, Spencer Dinwiddie Helped Solve Brooklyn Nets’ Point Guard Dilemma
The Brooklyn Nets have had a load of moving pieces throughout the year, but Isaiah Whitehead and Spencer Dinwiddie helped keep the point guard spot consistent.
If you look at all of the NBA’s best teams, you notice they have one thing in common: a top-tier point guard. The Eastern Conference alone has three guys who can have arguments made that they’re the league’s best. Unfortunately, Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving and John Wall don’t play for the Brooklyn Nets, but the situation in Brooklyn could’ve been much, much worse.
A host of guys have been called upon to run Kenny Atkinson‘s offense, and while some aren’t with the team anymore, Dinwiddie and Whitehead have been the two constants. All the issues arose when Jeremy Lin went down with his hamstring injury and missed more games than he should have. Those things happen, and there shouldn’t be any excuses because of it. Yogi Ferrell and Greivis Vasquez were brought on during the revolving door stretch of the season, and neither are with the organization anymore.
Sean Kilpatrick and Randy Foye, who are both solid players, also spent time at the one. It didn’t go well. The two played out of position, and it impacted Kilpatrick’s play much more than Foye. Since he’s still a young player, the decision-making skills weren’t there, and Kilpatrick isn’t someone who can create a shot every time down at the point.
Almost by default, Whitehead and Dinwiddie had to develop quickly.
Despite being young, they’ve spent time at the position, so the intangibles are there; basketball IQ, vision, etc. Of the Nets’ 65 games, Whitehead appeared in 57 and started 26, while Dinwiddie played in 42 and started 16. Neither should have that burden of going out with the first unit, but they’ve handled it well.
Dinwiddie has spent his entire career running offenses, and Brooklyn signed him because of that ability. Moreover, he’s a bigger guard with pretty decent vision. His minutes haven’t been astronomically high at 22.1 a night, but he’s been productive in his time and averages 6.9 points, 3.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game. The most surprising part of his evolution is the three-point stroke that he added.
Heading into this year, Dinwiddie wasn’t able to throw sand onto the beach. The Nets’ perimeter-oriented offense has not only given guys confidence in their shot, but also a reason to work on it vehemently. He’s only made 25 threes so far at a 41 percent clip, making him a knockdown shooter, and it’s a good enough mark for second-best on the team.
After crunching some other numbers, the decision to have Dinwiddie start is better for him, but not the team. Brooklyn is 1-15 with him in the starting lineup, but his averages jump to 8.3 points, 3.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds, and he also boasts an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.625.
The case with Whitehead is similar, but the Nets have a better record (4-22) with him as the starter over Dinwiddie. Regardless of when Whitehead gets his playing time, the numbers don’t deviate too much, but he’s a better scorer (8.5 to 6.8) when coming in as a reserve.
In a perfect world, injuries don’t happen, and Whitehead and Dinwiddie aren’t thrown into situations that they aren’t ready for. Over the course of the season, though, there’s been a noticeable improvement in both of them, and the load is lessened even more now that Lin is healthy and back in the lineup.