Before stars such as Kevin Durant joined the Brooklyn Nets, Spencer Dinwiddie was one of the first pieces in their massive rebuilding project.
Dinwiddie parlayed his productive time with the Nets into a large payday with the Washington Wizards and the guard will make his return to Brooklyn on Monday.
The Nets signed Dinwiddie Dec. 8, 2016 in the first year of their full rebuild under former coach Kenny Atkinson and current GM Sean Marks. In 274 games for the Nets, Dinwiddie averaged 14.3 points, including 16.8 in 2018-19 when the Nets won 42 games, made the playoffs for the first time since 2015 and went on to sign Durant at the outset of free agency.
Last season, Dinwiddie partially tore his ACL three games in. His numbers as a Net ultimately helped him land a three-year, $60 million deal with the Wizards, who acquired him in a sign-and-trade in August after pairing Russell Westbrook in the backcourt with Bradley Beal the previous season.
"I like his size, his athletic ability, his ability to score--which takes a lot of pressure off me in having to create new things--and his love for the game," Beal told NBC Sports Washington. "I've competed against him in Brooklyn. We always usually guard each other, so I know what he's about. He's about winning, he's about competing. I know I can go to war with him."
Two games into his tenure with the Wizards, Dinwiddie is averaging 23.5 points, 7.5 assists and shooting 50 percent (17 of 34). In his debut, he scored 13 points in a 15-point win at Toronto on Wednesday and followed it up by scoring 34 points on 13 of 24 from the field in a wild 135-134 overtime win over the Indiana Pacers in his home debut on Friday.
"Game-winning shots, we can go on YouTube and look at mine," Dinwiddie said. "And if Brad's out, I probably will be the one taking those most times. So you just understand what's the best shot for our team, but ain't no fear in those moments. Like, in my opinion, I'm one of if not the best in the league at it."
Dinwiddie's big night occurred while Beal sat out with a right hip contusion. Beal is questionable for Monday but is expected to play after not fully participating in practice Sunday.
So far, three games in, the Nets are searching for some consistency. They sandwiched double-digit losses to Milwaukee and Charlotte around a five-point win in Philadelphia, where they needed a game-ending 16-1 run to escape with a victory.
On Sunday, Durant scored 38 points, but the Nets were outplayed in the second half of a 111-96 loss to Charlotte in their home opener. After leading by eight at halftime, the Nets were outscored 61-37 in the final 24 minutes, including 32-17 in the fourth quarter.
"We weren't sharp enough," Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said. "We weren't competitive enough, even offensively to take the ball to the basket. We turned it over. We settled for difficult shots instead of playing with energy and pass instead of trying to get to the basket."
Brooklyn also allowed 29 points off 17 turnovers and had little offense beyond Durant. James Harden was Brooklyn's only other double-figure scorer with 15 points as the Nets shot 43.7 percent and misfired on 26 of 35 3-pointers while continuing to play without Irving due to his being unvaccinated.
"Nobody's going to lose confidence while we're playing and hope Kyrie comes and saves us during the game," Durant said of point guard Kyrie Irving, who continues to sit out while refusing the COVID-19 vaccine. "No, you've got to play."
Brooklyn rested Blake Griffin, but he is expected to play Monday. Durant also is expected to play Monday after sitting out some portions of back-to-back sets last season.
--Field Level Media