Dinwiddie is the ball-handling guard the Lakers have been coveting and Rob Pelinka highlighted as a need the team wanted to fulfill with their final open roster spot.
As someone who, admittedly, hasn’t watched every Dinwiddie masterclass in New York, I reached out to Lucas Kaplan, writer for Nets Daily, who covered Dinwiddie’s time in Brooklyn to see what kind of player the Lakers are receiving.
Below is our Q and A.
What should Lakers fans expect to see from Spencer Dinwiddie? What are his strengths and weaknesses at this stage of his career?
Kaplan: Lakers fans gathering intel on Dinwiddie should largely ignore his numbers so far this season. He was simply not engaged for the last two months or so in Brooklyn, a big reason for the team’s downslide in that time frame. He mostly resigned himself to taking desperation 3-pointers at the end of the shot-clock — the main reason for his career-worst 3-point percentage.
Dinwiddie doesn’t get to the rim at the same level he used to regardless of engagement level, but rest assured he can still get downhill more than we saw to start this season. He’d prove it in five-minute stretches that happened about once a week.
In many ways, the 30-year-old L.A. native is the platonic ideal of the modern ‘combo guard’ on offense. Dinwiddie is a legit threat off the ball, not exactly a tremendous cutter/relocator, but certainly can knock down spot-up threes. And when he assumes more pick-and-roll handling, he’s quite capable of reading the low man. I know his errant lobs go viral, but he’ll almost always make the right decision in PnR. In March and April of last season, as the undisputed primary ball-handler for Brooklyn, the man averaged 10.2 assists to 2.1 turnovers.
Overall, he’ll be a nice compliment to the overburdened Austin Reaves, as Dinwiddie has far more straight-line drive in his game and a traditionally efficient shot profile that eschews the midrange.
Weaknesses? Well, defense, for one. Dinwiddie should be engaged on the ball, and as one of the most well-conditioned endurance athletes in the NBA he can lock into a matchup. But he will space out off the ball. Not quite a gambler like Reaves, but susceptible to getting back-cut or spacing out on a rotation.
The final caveat: His offense is no guarantee to fully rebound. Yes, however extreme you think his passivity was in Brooklyn this season, I assure you it was worse. BUT. There’s a seasons-long downward trend, particularly after his ACL tear in late 2020, of getting to the rim less. He’s been cold from downtown for over a year now; this is more than a rough stretch.
So, while a change of scenery and less on his plate should improve Dinwiddie’s offense, there’s no guarantee he’s a real difference-maker in L.A. The man did get bought out, after all.
What’s the best-case scenario for Dinwiddie with the Lakers? What’s the worst-case scenario?
Kaplan: The worst-case and best-case scenarios rely on how much you believe in Dinwiddie’s internal switch. He got his wish to leave Brooklyn; can that really account for an uptick in defensive engagement and a return to consistent, downhill driving and an improvement in his catching-and-shooting? Well, maybe. It got bad on the East Coast, friends.
Is there anything else people should know about him?
Kaplan: Dinwiddie will tell you how he feels, all the time. He is likely the most candid player in the NBA, and no matter which direction the Lakers’ season goes, you’ll enjoy hearing from him.
A big thanks to Kaplan for his insight. For more of his Nets thoughts, you can follow him on Twitter at @LucasKaplan_.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.