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Mavs Preseason Profile: Can Spencer Dinwiddie Thrive in Bigger Role?

Spencer Dinwiddie struggled with his efficiency in the Dallas Mavericks postseason run to the Western Conference Finals. He’ll try to recapture some of his regular-season magic while having even more responsibilities this season.

Many questions surround the Dallas Mavericks’ roster heading into the 2022-23 NBA season, which officially tips off in a little more than two weeks from now. Among the biggest of those questions is whether or not Spencer Dinwiddie will be able to thrive in his new full-time starting role next to Luka Doncic with more responsibilities.

After returning from an ACL injury — one he admits he probably returned from too soon — Dinwiddie had a mixed bag of results last season as he split time between the Washington Wizards and the Mavs. Let’s take a look back at what he accomplished last season, as well as what’s expected for the coming season.

2021-22 Season Review

In 44 games for the Wizards, Dinwiddie averaged 12.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists, but only shot 37.6 percent from the field and 31 percent from deep. Returning early from his injury probably played a part in those poor shooting numbers, but the Wizards’ reportedly toxic locker room was likely a factor as well.

After being traded to the Mavs — along with Davis Bertans — at the deadline in exchange for Kristaps Porzingis, things instantly changed for Dinwiddie. In 23 regular-season games for Dallas, he averaged 15.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists while shooting a surprisingly efficient 49.8 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from deep. In the Mavs’ playoff run, his overall field goal percentage regressed to 41.7 percent, but his 3-point shooting actually increased to 41.7 percent.

Whether Dinwiddie was shooting the ball well or not, he proved on many occasions — both in the regular season and postseason — that he is a big-game player. Time after time, he showed up in some of the biggest moments, whether it was hitting game-winners against the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets in the regular season, or joining Luka Doncic by scoring 30+ points each in a thrilling Game 7 win over the Phoenix Suns in the second round. That was a feat no teammates had accomplished in a Game 7 since Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal did it for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002.

2022-23 Season Preview

With Jalen Brunson gone, Dinwiddie’s heroics will be needed on a more regular basis as he joins Doncic in the starting lineup. Although his responsibilities will increase, playing more minutes alongside Doncic will likely help Dinwiddie at least find some middle ground with his efficiency.

One thing that killed Dinwiddie’s overall field goal percentage in the postseason was that he wasn’t getting as many foul calls on drives to the rim that he got in the regular season — which is to be expected of course. We expect him to have a solid regular seasons this year. When it comes to the playoffs, though, the Mavs will likely need to add another established playmaker to the roster to get the best version of Dinwiddie — assuming in-house guys like Frank Ntilikina, Josh Green, Jaden Hardy or Tyler Dorsey don’t assume that role first.

There’s also plausible that Dinwiddie simply started to run out of gas at the end of last season, given the long, eventful year he had. History tells us that players typically return closer to their previous physical the second year coming back from ACL injuries, so perhaps Dinwiddie will be able to sustain some of his regular-season success from last season.

“I don’t really see myself filling Jalen’s role per say. For me it’s going to be go out there and make plays,” said Dinwiddie this week.

“There were a lot of games (last season) I finished games, there were games I played without Luka and without JB, and where I started games as well. But in terms of the mentality, green means go. Go make plays and try to win the game.”

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