Mavs Targets: Analyzing How Spencer Dinwiddie Fits

The Dallas Mavericks have been linked to Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie ahead of NBA free agency. Would he be a fit?
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DALLAS - Following the Dallas Mavericks' first-round playoff series loss to the LA Clippers, it's clear the primary focus will be to find a secondary ball handler that can take some pressure off Luka Doncic. 

One option that has been linked to the Mavericks at times so far this offseason has been Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie. 

In a report by Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News, the Mavericks were listed among teams who has interest in pursuing Dinwiddie in free agency. His interest in Dallas is 'unclear.'

The Mavericks are another team with interest in Dinwiddie, according to a source, and the Nets guard will be one of the more coveted players in free agency. Dinwiddie’s interest in Dallas or Miami is unclear. 

Dinwiddie is facing a situation where there is already an overabundance of talent on the perimeter in Brooklyn and not much for available money to dedicate toward keeping around all of it. With aspirations of winning the 2022 NBA Finals, the Nets could look elsewhere to round out its supporting cast.

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The Nets are a team built on its superstars' dynamic offensive abilities between their proficiency in isolation and pick-and-roll. With the ability to have one of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, or James Harden on the floor at all times, there is a need to have cohesive role players as opposed to a guard like Dinwiddie.

Last season, Dinwiddie appeared in just three regular season games for the Nets before suffering a torn ACL. In 2019-20, he posted averages of 20.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 6.8 assists. His production was achieved with Durant and Irving mostly sidelined. 

There will be questions Dinwiddie faces from many NBA teams as he enters free agency. However, despite coming off an injury and his cohesiveness alongside superstar talents, there will be no shortage of potential suitors for his services.

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In fact, there were even teams who tried to trade for Dinwiddie ahead of the March deadline despite him being sidelined for the remainder of the season. Those same teams will now have the option of making a run at him with using just cap space.

The deadline for Dinwiddie to decide on his $12.6 million player-option is Aug. 6 and he has already stated that he will be declining that to become a free agent. As a result, he will hit the unrestricted market and be able to sign anywhere he chooses.

How Could The Mavericks Acquire Spencer Dinwiddie?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The process needed in order to land Spencer Dinwiddie would be far from a complicated one for the Dallas Mavericks. He is set to be an unrestricted free agent and will be able to sign anywhere he wants. 

Now, where it gets interesting is in the market rate that Dinwiddie could be seeking from his next team. He has been quite vocal about what he's seeking in free agency and it will undoubtedly be a costly situation for a team. 

There will be no shortage of point guards available this offseason and the options the Mavericks have could come down to the top destinations getting their signings done early. 

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There is no greater example than the New York Knicks, who are the top team to watch in regards to the point guard position this offseason. They will be striving to add for a big name, so could Dinwiddie get overlooked? It's quite possible. 

Based on recent reports, it appears as though Dinwiddie primarily has his eyes on either Los Angeles based-team given he is from the area. Some even expect him to land with one of those teams.

Keep in mind, Dinwiddie has even vocalized his desire to play in his hometown for a discount and both the LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers could very well end up needing to add a point guard. 

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Dinwiddie also mentioned recently that he'd be willing to return to the Brooklyn Nets if the team was willing to pay him competitively. He threw out a hypothetical contract offer that would indicate the Nets 'coming to the table strong' in an interview with "The Crossover" and the details were five-years, $125 million. 

When considering how much payroll the Nets already have committed with three superstars, paying that much for a backup guard when there are many other holes to address is just not a logical team-building strategy. 

How Does Spencer Dinwiddie Fit? 

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

When Mark Cuban talked about wanting a secondary ball handler with some size, Spencer Dinwiddie is an option that would check both of those boxes. He is far from being free of potential concerns in terms of his fit, not just the fact that he's coming off a season-ending injury.

The greatest issue with Dinwiddie's skill-set is his lack of efficiency as an off-the-dribble shooter. In 2019-20, he shot a horrendous 27.7% clip from the field on these particular attempts within the half-court. 

For comparison's sake, Dinwiddie's output of 0.752 points per possession on these particular sequences was by far the worst among all 53 players who logged at least 200 attempts. Even Markelle Fultz, who was widely regarded as having a 'broken' jump shot, managed to post greater efficiency.

There's no overcompensating for a player who shoots at such a poor clip off-the-dribble. Come playoff time, teams will be able to take advantage of that weakness. All of a sudden, that previously helpful secondary ball handler becomes a liability. 

Let's look beyond that weakness for a moment...there are a few intriguing attributes that Dinwiddie does bring to the table. 

The playmaking contributions that Dinwiddie provides are not game-changing but certainly would add to the Mavericks' half-court offense. These are sequences that would get neutralized by a defense who chooses to switch-everything. 

As an initiator, Dinwiddie primarily connected with the Nets' roll man threats during his most recent healthy season. With complete four-out spacing, he would often connect with Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan for lob passes. Dwight Powell is the only player on the roster who can consistently emulate these sequences. 

Dinwiddie rarely would get downhill using a ball screen and force the low man to have to commit to helping on the drive. His lack of a pull-up jumper from deep already puts him at a disadvantage since the defense doesn't have to fear the initial option. 

After dribbling off a pick or outright rejecting it, Dinwiddie isn't much of a threat to get to the rim for finishes, especially against deep drops. He has a solid floater but the lack of a threat he poses as a shot creator in the in-between game prevents him from being a true top or secondary scoring threat on a contender. 

With Dinwiddie not having much for an ability to score out of ball screens, the defense rarely has to send the low man to help on a drive. This prevents him from creating spray outs for spot-up shooters and that lowers the ceiling of the offense. 

The main box that must be checked for any backcourt partner with Doncic is the ability to convert on catch-and-shoot attempts. Otherwise, the floor spacing becomes compromised and that issue becomes magnified in the playoffs. 

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Make no mistake, Dinwiddie is not a knockdown shooter in catch-and-shoot situations. Rather, he is serviceable as someone who can knock down an attempt when needed and largely under favorable circumstances. 

Despite taking 6.3 attempts per game from beyond the arc in 2019-20, Dinwiddie only averaged 2.2 in the form of catch-and-shoot. He  converted at a 37.3% clip on those looks but managed to shoot just 27.7% on his pull-up attempts to which he took 3.9 per game. Those numbers are not encouraging, to say the least...

Dinwiddie does possess a reliable ability to get downhill for finishes at the rim out of isolation situation. Whether he has to make a high-arching floater at a tough angle or use an inside-hand scoop finish against contract, he is capable of consistently converting when many others cannot. 

Aside from getting downhill for finishes, there isn't a whole lot to Dinwiddie's isolation repertoire. He does not often look to attack as a shot creator for pull-ups out of isolation. A lack of a layered skill-set in this area could prove to be problematic as a focal point within the context of traditional playoff game planning. 

The Mavericks need to plan for teams to switch everything against them in the playoffs and one of the main counters that was deployed when Kristaps Porzingis was unable to execute was to use Tim Hardaway Jr. as a ball screener. That worked due to Hardaway Jr.'s shooting ability and would become a liability if it were Dinwiddie.

There would be a need for the Mavericks to basically trust Dinwiddie to be able to attack in isolation and succeed on a consistent basis. If he were to be unable to do so, switching everything would bottle up the offense and force the same old problems. 

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Now, what would make this work much better in the event an underwhelming shooter like DeMar DeRozan were to be swapped into the mix is that DeRozan is a genuinely elite isolation scorer. He can get downhill into short-range and make tough shots while Dinwiddie is unable. 

Being a legitimate focal point of an offense in the playoffs clearly does not require one to be a proficient perimeter shooting threat. However, not being much for a shot creator from mid-range or after getting downhill in short-range does not project well. 

Overall, there does not appear to be enough impact that projects as being complementary to Doncic that makes Dinwiddie a favorable target for the projected price. There will be other secondary ball handler options available -- forcing the addition of one isn't needed.