Spencer Dinwiddie is an absolute bargain

When the Brooklyn Nets decided to extend Spencer Dinwiddie, the team made a conscious decision to break into some of their cap space in the summer of 2019. It is a three-year deal worth $34 million with a player option on the 3rd season. Dinwiddie’s salary next season will be $10.6 million. The Nets could have waited this out, coming to an agreement in the summer after the team had chased down big named free agents with their cap space.

The Nets want to be big players in free agency come July. If they renounce all their cap holds and find a way to dump Allen Crabbe, they’re looking at ~$72 million in cap space. Had they held off on the Dinwiddie extension that number would have been around $80 million.

Brooklyn didn’t care. They wanted to lock in Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie, who had made only $7 million in his career to that point, happily accepted securing $34 million guaranteed. His player options allows him the ability to get back on the market ahead of his age 28 season.

For the time being, the Nets have negotiated one of the one of the best contracts in the league. That is not hyperbole.

2018-19 Dinwiddie

Dinwiddie’s breakout season is extreme. Compare his shooting percentages against his career norms.

Category 2018-19 Career
FG% 46.1% 41%
3P% 36.6% 33.1%
2P% 53.6% 47.3%
eFG% 54.2% 48.3%
True Shooting % 59.8% 54.4%

Dinwiddie is 30-60 percentage points above his career averages in all of these categories. That is incredible. What’s more is this is coming on increased volume. Dinwiddie’s usage rate is at a career high 25.1% this season, while his career average is 20.1%

Dinwiddie has been a dynamic scorer for the Nets this season with the ball in his hands. This is borne out according to the categories we grade.

How has Dinwiddie been so effective and efficient? He is taking, and hitting, the right shots. Brooklyn wants to be Rockets East, either launching threes or taking shots at the rim. On the season, Dinwiddie is taking 70.7% of his shots from beyond the arc or within three feet of the basket. He is taking just 7% of his shots from 10′-16′, and a mere 2.5% of his shots from 16′ out to the three-point line.

Shooting

Dinwiddie is at 36.6% from distance on the season. He is hitting 35.3% of his pull-up threes. That number lands him surrounded by the likes of Kevin Durant, Luka Doncic, and J.J. Redick among volume pull-up three-point shooters. He is hitting 39% of his catch and shoot threes, putting him in the same territory as both Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Robert Covington, and Karl-Anthony Towns.

It seems apparent Dinwiddie has been studying Harden film too. This shouldn’t come as a shock for a player on a team that wishes they were the Rockets. Dinwiddie has busted out Harden’s side-step-step-back-hop non-travel-travel on multiple occasions.

At the Rim/Driving

Dinwiddie is averaging 14.3 drives per game, the 11th highest figure in the league. Among high volume drivers (minimum 20 games played, minimum 10 drives per game) Dinwiddie ranks 15th in points percentage. The 8 names immediately following him on the list are Donovan Mitchell, De’Aaron Fox, Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker, John Wall, Mike Conley, D’Angelo Russell, and DeMar DeRozan.

He is 12th in FG% on drives as well (among high volume drivers). This is largely due to how fantastic Dinwiddie has been at the rim this season. On the year he is shooting 68.6% on shots within three feet of the basket. For context, everyone’s favorite ambidextrous magician Kyrie Irving is a career 60.3% shooter at the rim.

This was on full display in a recent game against the Magic. During the game the Nets broadcast crew mentioned how coach Atkinson believes finishing at the rim is the aspect of Dinwiddie’s game that has seen the largest improvement.

It’s hard to overstate how impressive that last one is. Dinwiddie contorts his body to shoot from an awkward angle with the wrong hand in an effort to avoid the 7′ 10″ wingspan of Mo Bamba. And he perfectly kisses it off the glass.

Value

Dinwiddie is 10th in ORPM among point guards, and 33rd in RPM. Last season he was 11th in ORPM among point guards and 13th in RPM. The truth, as always, most likely in the middle. If we think of Dinwiddie as the ~23rd best point guard, he is a low end starter in the league or a good backup.

Starter

Remember, his cap number next year is going to be $10.6 million. The average salary for a starting point guard next season that isn’t on his rookie contract is $24.9 million. This number is slightly skewed, as Kemba Walker and Darren Collison are making $12 million and $10 million this season, but are pending free agents. This average also uses Kyrie Irving’s $21.3 million player option figure that is nearly guaranteed to be declined.

The max salary for Irving and Walker next season is $32.7 million. If we adjust their salaries to that number but still use the $10 million for Collison, the average salary for a point guard that is not on a rookie scale contract in the 2019-2020 season is $27 million. That $10.6 million figure seems like a bargain for a starter level point guard.

Backup

If we consider Dinwiddie a backup his deal still looks good. Other back up point guards such as Brandon Knight ($15.6 million), Dennis Schorder ($15.5 million), Patty Mills ($13.3 million), and Marcus Smart ($12.6 million) all make more. Other veteran backup point guards fall just below Dinwiddie’s salary, such as Matthew Dellavedova ($9.6 million), Dante Exum ($9.6 million), and Fred VanVleet ($9.5 million).

6th Man

Dinwiddie is the 6th man for the Nets, and has a real chance at winning 6th man of the year this season. The award tends to go to a score first guard that comes off the bench. 8 of the last 9 winners fit that profile. Here is how Dinwiddie compares to the previous award winners by points per 36 minutes.

Player Year Points/36
Spencer Dinwiddie 2018-19 21.7
Lou Williams 2017-18 24.8
Eric Gordon 2016-17 18.9
Jamal Crawford 2015-16 19.0
Lou Williams 2014-15 22.2
Jamal Crawford 2013-14 22.0
J.R. Smith 2012-13 19.4
James Harden 2011-12 19.3
Jamal Crawford 2009-10 20.9

This is an imperfect comparison due to the cap spike of 2016, but in 2015 Lou Williams signed for three years and $21 million. However, in 2016 Jamal Crawford signed for three years and $42 million, in 2016 Eric Gordon signed for four years and $53 million (his second four year, $50+ million contract in his career after his first one signed in 2012), and J.R. Smith signed for four years and $57 million in 2016.

Dinwiddie is underpaid for a veteran starting point guard, right in line as a veteran backup (but he is better than a backup), and underpaid for a 6th man of the year candidate/winner. For at least the next two seasons and change, the Nets will be turning a performance profit off of this financial investment.

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