Elaine Thompson/Associated Press
Drafted by: Detroit Pistons, No. 38 overall
Height/Weight: 6'6", 205 pounds
Age: 21 years old
Projected NBA Position: Shooting guard
Pro Comparison: Kevin Martin
It's been a strange ride for Spencer Dinwiddie.
Once heralded as a potential lottery pick, the Colorado guard made a surprising decision to return to the Buffaloes for his junior season, opting to continue honing his skills before making the leap to the NBA. However, he tore his ACL midway through the ensuing 2013-14 season, which has depressed his stock rather significantly.
Nonetheless, Dinwiddie declared for the 2014 NBA draft, where he'll hope a team takes an early chance on his immense potential. After all, there's a reason he was once so highly thought of.
Many reasons, in fact, given his height, frame, athleticism and versatile set of tools on both ends of the court.
|Statistics at Colorado|
With a 6'6" frame and long arms to boot, Dinwiddie certainly has the size necessary to thrive against NBA guards, whether he's playing point guard (less likely) or shooting guard (more likely). But does he have the athleticism as well?
Though Dinwiddie doesn't have as much straight-line speed or explosiveness as some of the new-breed guards who spend plenty of time playing above the rim, he doesn't usually need it. He's always in control and plays a game that's more smooth than full of spurts.
David Zalubowski/Associated Press
On top of that, he has nice lateral quickness, showcases plenty of agility and can get by defenders with a quick first step. With body control on his side, he doesn't even have to sky over rim-protecting players to finish the play effectively.
Unfortunately, there's still one major physical concern. His left knee buckled during a midseason game against Washington, and there's no telling whether he'll lose any spring or speed when he's fully healthy.
It's always a nice luxury to be able to line up at either point guard or shooting guard, something that Dinwiddie capably did during his career with the Buffaloes. He's likely to settle in as more of a 2-guard in the Association, but it's advantageous for him to be capable of running the show when matchups, injuries or foul trouble necessitate that type of involvement.
Additionally, Dinwiddie can thrive as a scorer or a distributor.
There's plenty of room for his facilitation to improve, but he's already proved himself a heady passer who keeps his eyes up when driving the lane. He does more than hit the easy passes, distributing the ball to his teammates even when it's necessary to weave the rock through a tight lane.
There aren't too many prospects who have the size and skills necessary to play either backcourt position, and Dinwiddie can also create his own looks, score off the ball or serve as a primary facilitator.
Consider him an offensive Swiss Army knife.
Do note that there's a major difference between "defensive potential" and "defensive readiness."
Dinwiddie has the former, though he's still too undisciplined and weak to be ready for immediate contributions on the less-glamorous end of the court. Until he can successfully navigate screens and avoid being pushed around by more muscular players, he's going to be a bit of a liability.
But he won't remain one forever, as he has plenty of defensive tools.
First is the size, which allows him to see all areas of the court while making things rather difficult on players trying to get up shots over him. His lanky arms—which measured in at 6'8.25" at the draft combine, via NBA.com's databases—also give him an advantage.
However, it's his mind and lateral quickness that sets him apart. Dinwiddie is capable of sliding over and staying in front of even the quickest ball-handlers, and he's shown a precocious ability to jump passing lanes and rack up steals.
He probably won't be a defensive standout, but he won't be a liability for long either.
If there's a singular reason for the Kevin Martin comparison, it would be this part of Dinwiddie's game. Certain players end up being marvels in the analytic community, and the Colorado guard could join vintage Martin in that category.
After all, he scores the right way.
The two most efficient shots on the basketball court—made three-pointers and successfully converted free throws—are areas in which the 21-year-old truly excels. He made 41.3 percent of his attempts from downtown during his junior season while taking 3.7 shots per game, and it was right in line with the rest of his career.
Freshman year, he knocked down 43.8 percent on 2.7 attempts per game. Then he followed that up by showcasing his smooth stroke as a sophomore and splashing 33.8 percent of a career-high 4.2 triples per contest.
And all the while, he thrived as a basket-attacking ball-handler who could get to the charity stripe and convert. He finished his Colorado career shooting 83 percent from the line while taking 5.9 free-throw attempts per game.
That's a devastating offensive combination.
Does Dinwiddie have that "it" factor?
While performance on tape can be telling, a player's mentality is also of paramount importance. And too often during his collegiate career, the oversized guard didn't have the killer instinct that's so necessary for survival as a scorer in the NBA.
At various points throughout his time in Boulder, Dinwiddie's aggressiveness would wane, leaving him a passive player, particularly when he was asked to play without the ball. Until he can become more consistent and start to assert himself, even if he does so while staying in the flow of the offense, it's going to be rather difficult for him to thrive at the next level.
The other two major concerns go hand in hand—strength and defensive ability.
Though Dinwiddie flashes good defensive tools and has the physical makeup necessary for that to even be considered a potential strength, as addressed earlier, he's not strong enough to avoid being bullied by lane-seeking guards and 2s willing to put their derriere toward the basket.
Will this improve when he's back at full strength and fully recovered from his torn ACL?
It'll have to for him to live up to his lofty potential.
Dinwiddie's impact as a rookie will be negligible.
Even if he's fully healed from the ACL he tore in early January, it's going to be rather difficult for him to make an immediate impact. That's a major injury that requires a lengthy period of time to regain full physical strength and—perhaps even more difficult—mental toughness.
But let's say he somehow exceeds the most optimistic time frames and is ready to go early on in the 2013-14 season.
Even then, he'll have missed much of his first offseason with his new team, which is a serious setback for a rookie trying to do away with a tough learning curve. That's not easy to overcome, and it'll limit him to a role on the bench or in the D-League for much of the year.
Though it's unlikely he'll ever be a star—thanks to his limited defensive potential and the lack of explosiveness—Dinwidde has the game necessary to become an above-average starter at the 2. And no, that's not just due to the dearth of high-quality shooting guards in the Association.
When he's healthy, it's just hard not to fall in love with his offensive game.
There's so much he does well, whether it's passing the ball to the right spots, creating his own looks, finishing around the basket, knocking down long-range jumpers or scoring easy points at the free-throw line. Few players are blessed with so many abilities on that end of the court.
Assuming a full recovery from his injury and a willingness from his new team to give him playing time, he has quite a bit of upside for a non-lottery player.