Spencer Dinwiddie arrived in February of last season, part of a blockbuster trade that altered the Dallas Mavericks’ roster significantly. Almost exactly a year later, Dinwiddie is leaving as part of a blockbuster trade that transforms the Mavericks yet again.
Dinwiddie wasn’t brought to Dallas to turn around the Mavericks’ fortunes. No, he was acquired for financial reasons. When the Mavericks shipped Kristaps Porzingis to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, they did it simply to turn a bloated, outrageous contract into two bad but tradable contracts. It was a move for the future.
Instead, Dinwiddie provided a spark the Mavericks desperately needed, becoming a key part of a Dallas team that made the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2011.
In 44 games with the Wizards, Dinwiddie shot only 31 percent from behind the arc. That’s not much worse than his career average up until that point (32 percent). But sharing the court with Luka Doncic changed Dinwiddie’s shot. In 23 games with the Mavericks last season, Dinwiddie shot 40 percent on threes. This season, he increased his attempts, from 4.5 per game to 6.4, and didn’t lose any efficiency, shooting 41 percent on threes.
He played in 76 games for Dallas, not even a whole season. But Dinwiddie was a huge part of a surprisingly good Mavericks team that reached the conference finals. He hit big shots throughout his time with the Mavericks, including game-winners against the Brooklyn Nets and the Boston Celtics.
This season, Dinwiddie has carried even more of the load. Jalen Brunson departed for the New York Knicks in the offseason, and the Mavericks didn’t find a replacement for him. Brunson’s playmaking fell to Dinwiddie, and while he wasn’t as effective as Brunson propping up the Mavericks offense without Luka, he provided the Mavericks with at least one other player besides Doncic who could dribble and run an offense (turns out Frank Ntilikina wasn’t an option).
Dinwiddie wasn’t good enough to hold the team together when Doncic missed games, but he was able to keep the offense flowing when Doncic sat. He played his part in Dallas perfectly, doing everything the Mavericks needed (on offense at least).
No, Dinwiddie won’t go down as one of the more memorable Mavericks players in franchise history. But he’ll be remembered as part of a fun squad that overachieved one postseason and helped Doncic reach his first conference finals. He’ll be mentioned alongside players like Vince Carter, Monta Ellis, and Nick Van Exel — guys who didn’t get the Mavericks to a championship, weren’t here that long, but were fun to watch along the way.
Dinwiddie is back in Brooklyn, where his career got its jumpstart. If the Nets don’t jettison Kevin Durant and rebuild, he’ll be back in the playoffs this spring. And while he’s on a different team, according to Dinwiddie, his goal remains the same. “I wanted to win one for Dallas, obviously there’s a certain level of pride there would be to bring a championship to Brooklyn over any other organization in the league, including an LA team or something,” Dinwiddie said during his intro presser with the Nets. “Being from LA, it would still be more prideful doing it here just because like I said in a lot of ways it made my career, so proud to be back, happy to be back and always appreciative.”