Why Spencer Dinwiddie Deserves Serious Consideration for the 2017-18 Most Improved Player Award

In his fourth season in the league, Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie has proved he deserves to be a starting point guard in the NBA.

Drafted by the Stan Van Gundy coached Detroit Pistons with the 38th pick of the 2014 NBA draft, Spencer Dinwiddie spent two unimpressive seasons in the Motor City before finding his way to the Big Apple for the 2016-17 NBA season. In his second year with the Nets, Dinwiddie has blossomed into a solid starting point guard and his contract is widely regarded as one of the best bargains in the league (On January 6th his $1.5-million deal for this season became fully guaranteed).

The MIP Case of Spencer Dinwiddie:

Forced into the starting lineup because of injuries to Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell, Dinwiddie took the opportunity and ran with it. The fourth-year guard is putting up career highs in multiple categories, averaging 13.2 points, 6.4 assists, and 3.1 rebounds in 27.9 minutes per game, around a five-minute increase from last season. With that five-minute increase in minutes, Dinwiddie has nearly doubled his scoring and assist numbers. His scoring numbers have improved from 7.3 points to 13.2 points per game (granted he is taking 5.5 shots per game as well) and his assist numbers have doubled from 3.1 to 6.4 assists per game.

Despite the increase in minutes and in assists, Dinwiddie’s turnover numbers have barely risen. The point guard is second in the entire league in assist to turnover ratio (out of players who average at least 15 minutes per game), dishing out 4.49 assists per every turnover he commits. The only player whom he trails is Washington Wizards backup point guard Tomas Satoransky, who barely leads with a ratio of 4.50 assists per turnover. Additionally, Spencer Dinwiddie has dished out the 9th most assists in the league with 256 assists on the season. His average of 6.4 assists per game is good enough for 13th in the league. Dinwiddie is doing all of this while playing for a Kenny Atkinson coached team that plays at the fifth highest pace in the league, which makes his low turnover numbers even more impressive.

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Moreover, Spencer Dinwiddie ranks 13th in the league in real plus-minus (an estimate of how many points, on average, a player adds or subtracts to a team’s scoring margin per 100 possessions). Dinwiddie’s RPM of 4.45  places him just ahead of Chris Paul at 4.44. As if his importance to the Brooklyn offense isn’t already crystal clear, Dinwiddie’s on-and-off court numbers paint the picture of how vital he is to the Net’s fast tempo offense. With Dinwiddie on the floor, the Nets have posted an offensive rating of 105.4. When the point guard is on the sideline, the Nets’ offense drops down to 99.2, over a six-point difference.

The Competition:

Victor Oladipo has received most of the attention in the 2018 Most-Improved Player race through the mid-point of the season, and rightfully so. However, Oladipo’s situation is a bit different from Dinwiddie’s. Oladipo spent the 2016-2017 season playing next to Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, whose style of play held the shooting guard back. Now with a team of his own, (the Indiana Pacers), Oladipo is flourishing, averaging 24.6 points, 4.1 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.9 steals while shooting career highs from the floor and from the perimeter. However, the Pacer has benefited from a huge increase in usage percentage, (the amount of team plays used by a player when he’s on the floor). Oladipo’s usage percentage in OKC was 21.4 percent, the lowest of his career and a product of playing next to Westbrook. With the Pacers, Oladipo is boasting a usage percentage of 30.5 percent, nearly a nine percent increase. His 17-18 percentage places him 12th in the league, ahead of players such as Steph Curry, Blake Griffin, and John Wall.

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