Spencer Dinwiddie has transformed into a fan favorite and one of this season’s feel-good stories. Should the Brooklyn Nets sell-high on him before the trade deadline?
We all knew back in October. By the dawn of 2018, the name on lips of every basketball fan from San Francisco to Shanghai would be Spencer Dinwiddie.
I’m being hyperbolic, of course, but Dinwiddie’s unlikely success remains one of the most compelling stories of the season. Drafted by Detroit in 2014, Dinwiddie had trouble finding his footing in the NBA. The Piston’s cluttered backcourt limited opportunities during his rookie and sophomore campaigns. Dinwiddie seemed to log more time in the D-League (as it was known then) than with the Pistons.
Traded by the Pistons in the summer of 2016 (before being waived twice by the Chicago Bulls), Dinwiddie arrived with the Brooklyn Nets in December of 2016. Starved for talent and picks after their disastrous deal with resident NBA trade-shyster Danny Ainge, the Nets were willing to roll the dice on just about anybody with upside.
Dinwiddie was worth the roll. The point guard has upped his per-game averages to 13.5 points and 6.5 assists per game. He currently sits at 18th in ESPN’s offensive real plus-minus (ORPM), and is a massive reason why the friskier-than-expected Nets are 22nd in the league instead of in the bowels where many expected.
Still, the team is bereft of assets. Swinging for high-upside talents who’ve struggled to make their mark elsewhere is the best route back to competitiveness. This strategy was the impetus behind the team acquiring D’Angelo Russell and Allen Crabbe (and at least part of the rationale of taking on Jahlil Okafor).
The Nets’ cap room has withered away to almost nothing. The team’s one remaining chip is Dinwiddie. Russell’s return (as well as Jeremy Lin next season) makes Dinwiddie as expendable as a really good player can be. It might be difficult for the Nets’ faithful to swallow, but the smart move is to move him now.
Point guard is a loaded position league-wide, but there are a few destinations Dinwiddie would make sense. First up is the Phoenix Suns.
NOTE: I want these trades to be realistic. The trade has to make sense for both sides.
Trade Number One
Brooklyn Nets Recieve:
Dragan Bender, Suns’ 2018 2nd rounder (via the Bucks)
Phoenix Suns Recieve:
Spencer Dinwiddie, Tyler Zeller
Why It Makes Sense For The Nets
A cursory glance at Dragan Bender’s basketball-reference page is uninspiring. The “Croation Sensation” is averaging 5.4 points in 22.3 minutes-per-game. The fourth-overall pick in the 2016 draft struggled through an injury-plagued rookie season, suiting up for just 43 games. Efficiency and confidence continue to be a problem for Bender in his second year. Why in the world would the Nets want him?
Talent and Upside
Bender just turned twenty. The Suns’ coaching staff and organizational culture has been rotten for his entire tenure; it’s hardly fair to label him a bust. Bender is a skilled and potentially dynamic player who could thrive under a developmental coach like Kenny Atkinson.
Bender is already a league-average three-point-shooter. The big man puts up 5.7 attempts per 36 minutes, converting them at a 36.6 percent clip. Bender is particularly effective at shooting corner threes, nailing over 40 percent of his attempts this season. Bender’s shot is smooth and quick, launched from a height most defenders can’t deal with even if they are in range: