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Spencer Dinwiddie Ready for Major Mavs Starting Role: ‘Let’s Get to It’

Given Jalen Brunson's departure from the Dallas Mavericks, Spencer Dinwiddie will be relied upon in a major role.

Spencer Dinwiddie signed with the Washington Wizards last offseason on a three-year, $54 million contract. He was sidelined for all but three games during the 2020-21 season after suffering a torn ACL. 

Dinwiddie attempted to push through an early return from injury for the betterment of the Wizards. He appeared in 44 games averaging 12.6 points and 5.8 assists before the organization decided it was best to move on. He was traded to the Dallas Mavericks along with Davis Bertans in exchange for Kristaps Porzingis. 

The calculated risk for the Mavericks paid off. He filled the needed role of being the reliable third guard behind Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson brilliantly — providing a major spark in the stretch-run of the regular season with averages of 15.8 points and 3.9 assists in 23 appearances.

Dinwiddie has remained consistent with a sentiment regarding his slow start to the season that it largely had to do with pushing through a quick turnaround after his ACL tear. Now he's almost two years removed from the major injury and is confident in his abilities. 

“Last year was a rehab year,” Dinwiddie said. “I got cleared to play from the ACL in five months, and I think the first game was eight or seven months away from surgery. Now we’re 20 months outside from that.

“If you ask anybody that’s been through any major injury, to even be able to come back that quickly is definitely a testament to the work. But it’s just completely different being almost two years removed.”

By not having to focus on injury rehab, Dinwiddie was afforded an offseason to actually work on improving aspects of his skill-set. Last offseason, he was disrupted by worries of swelling and having to take a day or two off. 

“It’s a normal offseason, full training mode, not worried about swelling or taking a break, or two days on and one day off,” Dinwiddie said. “It’s let’s get to it.”

A common theme from members of the Mavs organization has been an expressed trust that Dinwiddie will thrive stepping into the role as being Doncic's starting backcourt partner. However, there is also a shared sentiment that a collective effort will overcompensate for losing Brunson's overall scoring production after adding Christian Wood and gaining Tim Hardaway Jr. from injury. 

Dinwiddie started five games next to Doncic last season and was impressive in those games. He averaged 18.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.6 assists with four of the five performances coming in part of the same road trip.

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“Now starting alongside Luka, some can look at it as a different role,” Kidd said. “But he played with Luka at times (last season).

“It’s just take advantage of having someone like that who is going to draw a lot of attention will make the game easier for you. Then I think him being able to set the table for some other guys, too.”

Dinwiddie doesn't view stepping into a starting role as replacing Brunson's production. He already was comfortable with shouldering greater responsibility when the Mavs needed him to do so, whether it was Brunson or Doncic that was sidelined for a given game.

“I don’t really see myself filling Jalen’s role per se,” Dinwiddie said. “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.”

As long as things go according to plan with Dinwiddie holding down the starting shooting guard role well, the next priority will be to re-establish bench production after no longer having three established impact creators. Again, having three creators to rely on maximized the Mavs offense and insulated them from complications from injuries.

With Hardaway Jr. and Wood in the bench unit, those two should be integral focuses of the offense, but is there a need for a third guard that can run high ball screens and attack in isolation? The best-case scenario appears to be that Jaden Hardy emerges into such a role at some point. If not, a midseason roster change using a trade or the NBA buyout market could be needed for a stopgap option as Hardy develops.

You can follow Grant Afseth on Twitter at @GrantAfseth.

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