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Spencer Dinwiddie thriving as starter with Kyrie Irving out

Brooklyn Nets v Chicago Bulls

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 16: Spencer Dinwiddie #8 of the Brooklyn Nets shoots the ball against the Chicago Bulls on November 16, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Spencer Dinwiddie is on a roll.

Since Kyrie Irving was sidelined by his shoulder five games ago, Dinwiddie is averaging 25 points and 6.2 assists a game with a 60.9 true shooting percentage — and the Nets are 4-1. The Nets offense has not been statistically better in those five games (based on points per possession), but it has looked and flowed better, with the team making 36 more passes a game.

Nets’ coach Kenny Atkinson said that’s because Dinwiddie gets what the Nets want to do, via Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

“Difference-maker right now,” Kenny Atkinson said of Dinwiddie. “They were double-teaming him all night. … He did a good job getting it out, exploiting the mismatch. What he’s also doing, he’s doing it on both ends, on the defensive end, too. … He’s playing really good basketball...

“Kyrie is still learning exactly what we want to do. Spencer’s got a little more corporate knowledge,” Atkinson said. “It’s going to take time for Kyrie to completely understand what we’re doing on both sides of the ball. That being said, for not understanding he’s been pretty darn good.”


Irving is also just more of an isolation, go-at-your-guy-and-score player. His handles let him create space and get off shots other players cannot, and Irving takes advantage of that. It’s who he is. It’s also just different than who the Nets have been.

Could Dinwiddie and Irving play side-by-side? In 138 minutes paired so far this season, the Nets are +7.6 per 100 possessions (small sample size, but a positive sign). It’s something Atkinson may want to experiment with more as the season moves along.

Editor’s note: Brooklyn’s got back-to-back games vs. Boston. Need tickets?

Brooklyn’s biggest challenge the next couple of years is melding that selfless, lunch-pail culture they built with the superstar talents of Irving and Kevin Durant (who is out until likely next season following a torn Achilles). It’s not going to be easy, but if the Nets are really going to contend in a year it has to happen.