Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn faced a monumental task following the trades of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. With his top two scorers out the door and four new players entering the starting lineup, he had to decipher the winning formula for a new-look Brooklyn squad that still held playoff aspirations.
On the court, a large portion of that responsibility has fallen on Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn’s point guard and most experienced starter at 29 years old. The veteran has answered the call while orchestrating the Nets’ patched-together offense back to a respectable standing. Dinwiddie led the NBA with 146 total assists (9.7 per game) in March, the most recorded by a Net in a month in over a decade (Deron Williams had 154 in Jan. 2012).
Vaughn offered high praise for the floor general’s quick acclimation Tuesday:
“It’s part of that expedited gelling,” he said of Dinwiddie’s league-leading month. “It’s a difficult task to have a new group around you as a point guard and figure out does this guy like to shoot leading with his left shoulder or leading with his right shoulder? If I get to the rim, does Nic [Claxton] like it a little above the rim? To the left of the rim? Can he take passes directly at him? So a lot goes into it.”
“These guys are so good. They make it look simple because they do it on a nightly basis. But when you really strip things down and how you can be effective with a new group, you give Spencer an extreme amount of credit for doing the film work, doing the relationship piece, and getting to know these dudes on more than just a basketball level. So a lot of layers to it that you give him credit for.”
Dinwiddie has continued to provide the high-level scoring that earned him a role in the NBA during his second stint with Brooklyn, averaging 16.8 points per game to go with a career-high 8.7 assists. The Colorado product dished out 12 assists in the Nets’ win over Utah Sunday, his second-highest total since rejoining the team:
Despite a heavy workload as Brooklyn’s lead ball handler, Dinwiddie credited his teammates following the victory:
“They’re just hitting shots, man,” he said. “I think we try to play with space. Nic does a great job of providing rim pressure. It’s just a credit to the guys. They provide the space and you kind of get in the cracks and they reward me.”
Mikal Bridges, who has broken out with the Nets while averaging 27.6 points on 50/42/91 shooting splits, said Dinwiddie was being modest:
“He’s just breaking defenses down. He’s so skilled offensively and he’s quick so he gets past somebody and then he finds us,” Bridges said. “I know he’s thanking us but he’s the one getting in the paint, making the read, and getting us looks. He’s reading the game and knowing when to be aggressive and score and when to pass. He’s doing a really good job.”
Dinwiddie has reached double-digit assists in nine of his last 12 games. Brooklyn’s offense ranks 16th in the league during that span.
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