Colorado guard Spencer Dinwiddie shocked scouts across the league when he announced in late April that he was leaving the Buffalo program to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA.
After tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in January, many expected him to return for his senior season after missing more than half of the year. Considered a fringe first rounder before the injury, it’s hard to understand why a player of his caliber would take the chance of leaving school with one year of eligibility.
Not only is Dinwiddie rehabbing to be ready to play by the start of August, he is facing a boatload of criticism. Yet he keeps pushing forward toward being a major part of an NBA franchise.
The experts can talk all they want about what’s missing from the multidimensional guard’s game. It’s not going to bother him.
If there is one thing that Dinwiddie doesn’t lack, it’s confidence.
The Los Angeles product knows that he can play at three positions in the NBA. He believes in his ability as a team leader at point guard. He’s willing to develop his game around whatever the team that drafts him needs.
And if he comes back stronger then ever from his ACL injury, he just might be the best bargain in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Wingspan: 6′ 8.25″
Hometown: Woodland Hills, CA
Points Per Game: 14.7 | Field Goal Percentage: 47% | Free Throw Percentage: 87% | Three Point Percentage: 41%
Rebounds Per Game: 3.1 | Assists Per Game: 3.8 | Player Efficiency Rating: 24.8
One of the first things that sticks out about Spencer Dinwiddie’s game is the fact that opposing coaches have to account for him on both sides of the floor. He has a natural feel for the court and a nose for the basketball. Dinwiddie’s reaction speed and anticipation level is as good or better than some of the highest rated guards in this class.
It’s witnessed on both sides of the floor.
Defensively, he might not be the best athlete, but he is always around the ball. He doesn’t have to do anything crazy to create a play. If he tips a ball up, it’s in his lap. Even if a teammate makes a defensive play, he is in the right spot to get the basketball.
What brings it together is how he so fluently takes those defensive plays and turns them into transition offense. From there, he uses what’s available to him. Dinwiddie might not have what they define as closing speed, but he can find an opening on the floor. He has an uncanny ability to find his teammates on the fast break. Most importantly, he isn’t afraid to finish on transition by forcing his way to the free throw line.
It’s not just his sylin’ mustache that is throwback.
Dinwiddie is an unselfish player. He’s more concerned about setting up a play that leads to scoring, than getting his own. He has bought in to making one extra pass in transition, and it’s made a difference for the Colorado offense. Just like he has a knack for finding the basketball on the floor, he has a natural ability to find teammates in rhythm.
At times, he’s been a master of the pick and roll. He has a good sense of finding an opening in the interior. Or if he see’s it closing, he has no problem pulling up for two off the screen when defenders bite inside.
Dinwiddie’s confidence is a strength that has fueled him into the player he is today.
He’s a natural leader and a scorer.
Two strengths that you can’t teach.
Lack of concentration might be one of the biggest weaknesses in Dinwiddie’s game. For as many smart plays he makes, there are times where he loses focus and makes bad plays.
At the NBA level, you can’t have players perfectly lined up in the post and airmail a pass. There is no room for forcing a fast break three with a hand in your face. It seems that all these decisions come down to bad decision making.
Sometimes it’s like the guard plays too fast, leading him to force things. Other times you wonder if it’s him just trying to be the hero at a point in the game where making the right play is more important than making an emphatic one.
Often times in the half court, Dinwiddie will force up jump shots way too early in the possession. On the same token, he has also been known to be so focused on an isolation play, that he doesn’t break down the defense. It leads him to the bucket with three defenders around him and two wide open teammates on the perimeter rushing back on defense to make up for his horrendous shot selection.
Bad decision making can be cut drastically with the right attitude and coaching.
You cant fix a lack of effort.
Sometimes Dinwiddie takes possessions off on the defensive side of the floor. He even lacks to get into any type of defensive possession. He gives up on covering shots on the perimeter to get in a better position offensively often times.
He takes the same type of mentality to the defensive glass. At 6’6″, he should be able to have some affect on the game when it comes to grabbing boards. Way too often he let’s people beat him to the glass without putting his hands in the air or even trying to get in better position. If he can work on this and improve it, it would add another dimension to his game.
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Latest reports on his ACL are that he’ll be able to get back to the court at the beginning of August. The speed of his recovery and intense rehab regimen have already been compared to Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s quick turnaround nearly three years ago.
As talented as he is, it’s still hard to put all of your 2014 draft stock into a talent that hasn’t played since January. It’d be a different story if the Pistons still had their first round pick, but a lot rides on the 38th selection.
Yet it’s hard to pass up that type of talent at this point of the draft.
He fills the need for a distributor, three point shooter, defensive point guard and scorer.
He might have some issues as a point guard at the next level, but he could surely fill a key bench spot as a shooting guard or even on the ball point with the second team.