Spencer Dinwiddie Says He Was Most Improved Player, Was Near an All-Star Level

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2018

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03:  Spencer Dinwiddie #8 of the Brooklyn Nets in action against the New York Knicks during a preseason game at Barclays Center on October 3, 2018 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
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Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie said in an interview on the YES Network that he was robbed in the Most Improved Player voting and should have won the award over Victor Oladipo (via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News):

Dinwiddie, 25, averaged 12.6 points, 6.6 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game in the 2017-18 season. Those particular numbers, however, mostly paled in comparison to Oladipo's contributions (23.1 PPG, 4.3 APG, 5.2 RPG). 

As for the assertion that Oladipo had "great years for four years," his previous high in points per game was 17.9 in the 2014-15 season. In 2017-18, meanwhile, Oladipo set career highs in shooting percentage (47.7 percent), three-point shooting (37.1 percent), points, rebounds, assists and steals (2.4 SPG). 

He was also named an All-Star, first-team All-Defensive selection and third-team All-NBA.

Dinwiddie argued that he should have earned the award for going from the "D League to just sub-All-Star-level point guard in 50 games." It's a fair argument, and the leap Dinwiddie made was superb.

The argument for Oladipo, however, is that his leap was just as astonishing. He went from being a solid wing to a player ESPN.com ranked as the 15th best player in the NBA, putting him in the superstar stratosphere. Sports Illustrated, meanwhile, had him No. 20 overall. 

As Ben Golliver wrote for SI.com:

"He shot the three at a career-high rate, he worked in a more reliable off-the-dribble jumper, he attacked the rim with greater purpose, and he committed to becoming a disruptive defender on a nightly basis. Importantly, Oladipo also settled in as a late-game option, ranking fourth in clutch scoring and leading the pesky, overachieving Pacers to a 24-17 record in games that were within five points in the last five minutes. Perhaps the best way to gauge Oladipo’s value came when he was sidelined for seven games: Indiana went 0-7 and lost by an average of 14 points."

Dinwiddie, without question, deserved to be in the Most Improved Player conversation alongside Oladipo and Clint Capela. And he had some impressive advanced stats. As John Schuhmann of NBA.com wrote, he had "an assist-turnover ratio of 4.09, the second best mark among 326 players who averaged at least 10 minutes per game in 40 games or more."

He also "tied for third with seven field goals (on 23 attempts) to tie or take the lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime, though he was just 1-for-10 on 3-pointers to tie or take the lead in the final minute."

For a player who largely came off the bench in his three previous seasons and had never averaged double-digit points in a season before 2017-18, his improvement last year was marked. But given that Oladipo earned 99 first-place votes for Most Improved Player and Dinwiddie earned just one, it was clear that the NBA community felt the Pacers star made the bigger jump.

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