During the four games he’s played with the Dallas Mavericks thus far this season, there’s one thing that’s become apparent about Spencer Dinwiddie.
He knows how to go get buckets.
Since he and Davis Bertans joined the Mavs on Feb. 10 in a trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis and a protected 2022 second-round draft pick to the Washington Wizards, Dinwiddie has been an energy guy off the bench who attacks the basket with the greatest of ease. In his four games with the Mavs, the 6-6, 215-pound point guard is averaging 14 points and 3.3 assists while shooting a robust 63.9 percent from the field and a healthy 46.2 percent from beyond the three-point arc.
“I’m not surprised,” coach Jason Kidd said. “He’s a very good player.
“He’s been in this league. He understands how to win.”
Now in his eighth season after being a second-round draft pick out of Colorado by the Detroit Pistons in 2014, Dinwiddie had his best years while playing for the Brooklyn Nets. Dinwiddie averaged 12.6 points and 6.6 assists for the Nets during the 2017-18 season, followed by 16.8 points and 4.6 assists the following season and 20.6 points and 6.8 assists during the 2019-20 campaign.
“I remember in Brooklyn, you could see that he was a baller,” point guard Luka Doncic said. “That’s how I’m going to describe him. I knew he could score the ball. He’s amazing with the ball. He can do a lot of things. We’re just glad to have him.”
Dinwiddie helped set the table for the Mavs’ miraculous 21-point comeback during Sunday’s improbable 107-101 win over the Golden State Warriors when he tallied 10 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter. In all, Dinwiddie was 10-of-14 from the field and also distributed five assists while flawlessly running the Mavs’ offensive attack.
But Dinwiddle didn’t stop there, as he finished with 14 points and nine assists in Tuesday’s 109-104 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. And he collected 17 points and seven assists when the Mavs defeated the Warriors — again — 122-113, this past Thursday.
Dinwiddie’s presence allows the Mavs to utilize three points guards – Jalen Brunson, Doncic and Dinwiddie – on the court at the same time if they so choose, which is a strategy they successfully used against the Warriors.
“We’ll probably use it a lot, but also I want to make sure that we always have two ball handlers out there,” Kidd said. “We’ve got to look at that as a staff and we’ll talk about that with those three on how we can be better.”
Dinwiddie, who turns 29 on April 6, is all-in on playing alongside Doncic and Brunson, and on taking turns running the offense.
“On this team the great part about it is everybody kind of knows what they’re good at, they know their roles and they try to get to it,” Dinwiddie said. “And with that being said, it’s a very professional mindset in that respect.
“You’re not going to have (Reggie) Bullock and Doe-Doe (Dorian Finney-Smith) isolating, so you’re not going to be caught off-guard. So it’s also easy to get in position.”
And for Dinwiddie, getting in position to attack the basket, shoot a jump shot or pass to an open teammate is precisely his way of helping the Mavs prosper on offense. That’s what he also did last Friday against Utah when he scored 20 points on 8-of-12 shots.
“If Luka has the ball I know to get to the corner,” Dinwiddie said. “But if Doe-Doe has the ball or Bullock, I might go chase the ball and go get it.
“But if there’s a situation where they’re trying to isolate and then I’m chasing the ball and then I’m messing up spacing, then we are discombobulated and then everybody is like, ‘What are we doing?’ We don’t have a lot of those moments because everybody is kind of doing their job.”
Everyone is doing their job because as the new kid on the block, Dinwiddie explained that Kidd has simplified everything for him.
“I think in terms of watching basketball and the position I’ve played my entire career, that part comes natural,” he said. “But in terms of soaking up the Dallas system and being able to play with Luka and JB, obviously as (Doncic and Brunson are) the first and second playmakers, that credit goes to those two.
“And then also credit goes to coach Kidd in terms of pairing me down and simplifying things, so now I know that I kind of have a cheat sheet. Whereas they may be calling (plays) from nine different things, I’m calling from like four.”
Either way, Dinwiddie and his new teammates have usually been on the same page.
“But it’s much more of a credit to (Kidd, Doncic and Brunson) helping me on that end. And on the defensive end, it’s group talk. They have a team philosophy here defensively, and so sometimes people are talking me into position and pushing me into position when I’m over-helping or under-helping, so I appreciate the guys.”
Finney-Smith just appreciates the fact that he doesn’t have to stress himself out anymore while chasing Dinwiddie around the court.
“Spencer adds that extra ball handler that we need,” he said. “He can create just like JB and Luka, and I feel like he was rolling (Sunday).
“That’s the Spencer that I used to have to guard, and I’m happy to be playing with him.”
Since Dinwiddie has this unique way of twisting his body and getting a basket or drawing a foul when he drives to the basket, Kidd has given him the green light to attack the rim whenever the opportunity presents itself.
“J-Kidd pretty much lays it out,” Dinwiddie said. “He said, ‘Look, we have three playmakers – Luka first, JB second, Spencer third — and we want those three to be aggressive.’ And it’s our responsibility to make the right play.
“So, with Golden State, the way they play, they switch a lot. So, it’s try to get the matchup, get downhill and get in the paint and collapse the defense.”
Because Dinwiddie was able to perfect those aforementioned scenarios against the Warriors, he finished Sunday’s contest with a game-high plus/minus of plus 17. He also scored seven huge points down the stretch of Thursday’s victory over the Warriors.
As to why he has fit into the Mavs’ system so seamlessly, Dinwiddie said: “I think it’s on the coaching staff keeping it simple on the guys being in the right spots, and on them continuing to push me to be aggressive. They want me to be in the paint because they know that I’m going to get them shots most nights.
“Obviously, (Sunday) ended up turning into more points because, like I said, Golden State switched and didn’t really have much rim protection out there. But on other nights there’s going to be a center or a shot-blocker rotating over and it’s going to be on me to have the responsibility to pass it to them, and they’re going to get threes and hopefully we’ll have a great offensive night that way, too.”
In re-living Dinwiddie’s performance against the Warriors this past Sunday, Kidd said: “Spencer was big for us. I thought he did a great job of organizing us on the floor and getting guys in certain spots to be able to run the offense.
“Again, (he was) attacking, getting to the rim and also being able to shoot the three. Spencer is vocal, and we’re really happy to have him and he’s playing at a high level for us right now.”
And one reason Dinwiddie is playing at a high level right now is because he knows how to go get buckets.