When the Brooklyn Nets face the Boston Celtics on Monday night, they’ll be without Spencer Dinwiddie, who’s scheduled to have thumb surgery that same day, and expected to be on the sidelines for 3-6 weeks.
It was around this time last year, where Dinwiddie himself was given opportunity in Brooklyn, stepping in for the injured D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin. Dinwiddie went on a tear and secured a roster spot for the rest of the season, as well as an extension from the Nets several months later.
Who’s likely to go on a Dinwiddie-esque run in the wake of his injury? Dinwiddie’s 17.2 points per game will be missed, but it’s better to deal with the injury sooner rather than later, especially with the Nets very much in the playoff picture.
D’Angelo Russell has been playing out of his mind lately, making a strong case to be a first-time All-Star this season. The Nets are on a six-game winning streak, where Russell’s been averaging 25.3 points and a little over 7 assists during the run.
Russell dropped 40 points on the Orlando Magic in a comeback win during the streak, and has made the Nets’ front office decisions much harder this summer. Without Dinwiddie, Nets fans will see just how long Russell can keep up the best playing stretch of his career.
Dinwiddie could be out as late as March, and rumor has it that the Nets are eyeing a Caris LeVert return sometime in February. Giving LeVert some of Dinwiddie’s minutes would allow the young stud to get re-acclimated to the hardwood. Especially with a slow start, LeVert needs all the time he could get on the floor in order to return to earlier-season form.
Shabazz Napier could also get more reps in during Dinwiddie’s absence since they play the same position. Napier’s averaged 16.7 minutes per game this year, a 4-minute drop-off from his time in Portland last season.
Napier was coming off the best season of his career last year, and can finally look to build momentum as the rotation’s go-to backup point guard for the time being. He’s averaging a career-high 9 points this year, and is doing so with less playing time, which indicates an improvement in efficiency.
A new name has also been thrown into the hat: Theo Pinson of the Long Island Nets, Brooklyn’s G-League affiliate. Pinson, in his 8th game with the Brooklyn Nets, had a career and team-high 19 points against the New York Knicks last night.
Pinson went 3-for-5 from three-point land against the Knicks, and the Nets could be even more dangerous if they have another scoring wing in their rotation. It’s too early to say that Pinson will be the next Dinwiddie, but he can surely find himself a spot in the rotation should he play at the level he did against the Knicks.
The Nets are losing one of their best players in Dinwiddie, but the team has found their hard-nosed identity and never-say-die attitude, making it hard to see them falling off dramatically even without Dinwiddie.
Expect Brooklyn and Kenny Atkinson to have a “next man up” attitude, and continue to build momentum towards the postseason.