Brooklyn Nets point man Spencer Dinwiddie clarified his intent after proclaiming he was the most improved player in the NBA last year. The 6-foot-6 dynamo expressed concern about being taken out of context before, as if slighting Most Improved Player award winner Victor Oladipo and runner-up Clint Capela.
Dinwiddie wanted to make it clear — “like perfect quotes,” insisting — “I really need this to get out exactly the way I said it.”
“My whole thing was on the definition of ‘improved’ — that was the point that I made,” Dinwiddie said Thursday, as part of a 2-minute, 28-second response to open his session with the media, a day after his flammable comments aired during halftime of the Nets’ preseason game, according to Jonathan Lehman of The New York Post. “Not that they were not good, somehow or some other thing.
“My point was: The production, in terms of advanced analytics, where it ranked, what happened, from a person who was out of the league — like, not in the league, not ‘assigned’ to the D-League, literally in the D-League — to come here, not supposed to play, 14th, 15th man, whatever you want to call it, on the roster, behind [D’Angelo Russell] and [Jeremy Lin], to then have the season that he had, if we’re going to compare it to the other two people, I felt, by definition of ‘improved,’ that I should’ve won it.”
Dinwiddie has a great point here. While Oladipo took a leap from a good player on the fringe of being a starter to an undeniable All-Star and Capela had a merited improvement after every season he’s been in the league, Dinwiddie made the biggest strides, going from being a non-existent NBA player (virtually a walk-on), to a starter after the injuries to Lin and Russell — flourishing without the greatest supporting cast around him.
The L.A. native made 58 starts at point guard and put up 12.6 points and 6.6 assists per game, nearly doubling his averages of 7.3 and 3.1 from the prior season when the Nets signed him out of the G-League in December. Dinwiddie posted a dazzling 4.1 assist-to-turnover ratio, the second-best mark in the NBA and the very best among starters.
That ability was vindicated when he won the Skills Challenge trophy during the NBA All-Star Weekend, but his damage wouldn’t be done. Dinwiddie surprisingly led the league in field goals made beyond 30-feet, beating out other long-bombers like Damian Lillard, Eric Gordon and LeBron James — all household names.
While the award itself is debatable, Dinwiddie surely has the right to be in the conversation for the Most Improved Player award after his rags to riches story proved to be deserving of consideration.