According to thelawdictionary.org, a distressed asset is any asset that is put on sale at well below its expected value because the asset owner is forced to sell. In Spencer Dinwiddie’s case, his relationship with Bradley Beal had reached a boiling point and the locker room was not big enough for the two of them to coexist. We can debate whether the dysfunction in the Washington locker room was due to Dinwiddie’s arrival or whether he was simply the match that set a combustible environment on fire. Either way, it didn’t work and ownership was determined to move on from Dinwiddie with great haste.
So, what or who, exactly did the Mavericks trade for? In July, I wrote a free agent profile for Dinwiddie in anticipation of Dallas making a run at him in free agency. In summary:
- His playmaking could help ease the burden on Luka
- His shooting splits, while ugly, were due to the type of shots he was forced to take on some terrible Nets teams
- HIs catch and shoot numbers were above league average
- His size would help strengthen our defense
Some have been up in arms since the trade was announced and point to Dinwiddie’s stats as the reason why he will fail in Dallas. It’s worth considering a few things.
First, this is Dinwiddie’s first season playing since December of 2020. Two NBA champions were crowned in the time it took for Dinwiddie to come back from a torn ACL. There was always going to be rust. Physically, it was always going to take him a year or so for him to get close to where he was before the injury.
Second, as a degenerate gambler, I watched more Washington Wizards games than I’d like to admit. The team that started out 10-3 was not the team we saw in the last 40 games. The ball stopped moving. That can be attributed to the second problem which is that Bradley Beal started playing poorly. Beal tried and failed, to shoot himself out of an extended slump and it affected the entire offense. The lack of touches on offense also affected how hard most of the team played on the defensive end.
Let’s break down Dinwiddie’s stats and see if we can spot a trend.
15.7 points, 5.7 assists, 5.3 rebounds per game, 41.6% FG on 13.3 attempts, 35.6% from three on 5.6 attempts.
Not bad. He was rusty but was still a very useful player who helped contribute to the Wizards' early-season success.
12.6 points, 4.7 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 37.6% FG on 11.2 attempts, 31% from three on 5.3 attempts
Not great, Scoob. Now, let's dig a little deeper.
31 games Dinwiddie played alongside Bradley Beal
10.2 points, 5.0 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 33.6% on 9.8 attempts, 27.1% from three on 4.6 attempts
13 games Dinwiddie played without Bradley Beal
18.5 points, 7.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 44.1% FG on 14.5 attempts, 37.8% from three on 6.3 attempts
Would you take 18.5/8/5 from a player shooting 37.8% from three next to Luka?
Bradley Beal had no interest in sharing the ball with and playing alongside Dinwiddie. The more one watches the Wizards, the more obvious this is. The worst thing one could do is think that by substituting Luka in for Beal, Dinwiddie’s numbers are going to tank.
Even in a year where he doesn't have his legs back, what Dinwiddie can be in an offense where the ball moves is evident. Dinwiddie has never played next to a player like Doncic and has never had someone feed him wide-open looks. Regularly, it’s fallen on his shoulders to generate those looks for others. Look at his assists totals in games without Bradley Beal.
Fit matters. Chemistry matters. Numbers can tell a story but without proper context, they can be misleading. No one is telling you Dinwiddie will be the second star the Mavericks so desperately need. Exit out of Dinwiddie’s basketball reference page and remember what Doncic has done for everyone that plays around him. He is the tide that lifts up the other boats. Bradley Beal is not that type of player.
The situation in Dallas will be night and day compared to the circumstances under which Dinwiddie was asked to play under in Washington. Secondly, have patience. We all thought Porzingis was done after last year but we saw what a healthy offseason did for his lateral quickness and ability to protect the rim. The version of Dinwiddie we see the rest of this season won't be the version we see with a healthy offseason behind him.
Also, if you want to know how a change in scenery and role can do wonders for your career, look no further than Tim Hardaway Jr. Once considered an albatross contract, Hardaway Jr. was able to play himself into another big money multiyear extension.
The point guard position isn't as loaded as we’ve seen in years past. If Dinwiddie can salvage the rest of this season and/or play well early next season, there will be a number of teams that can easily talk themselves into trading for Dinwiddie. He’s not a savior. Kristaps Porzingis was never going to fetch a savior in return. What we have, however, is an opportunity to turn a distressed asset into a decent complimentary player or the centerpiece of our next trade.