After getting off to a red hot start early in the 2020 NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets lost their first game on Sunday night. Kevin Durant missed a potential game-tying jumper as the Nets fell to the Charlotte Hornets 104-106. This, however, was not the team’s biggest loss of the night.
Spencer Dinwiddie Is Out for the Season
The star guard left the game on Sunday with what was described as a right knee strain, but after several tests, it was confirmed that Dinwiddie suffered a partial ACL tear. He will have surgery to repair the injured knee sometime next week, per the team.
“He means a lot,” center Jarrett Allen told reporters, via ESPN. “When Spencer is going he can’t be stopped. His offensive game, he’s going downhill and creating shots for others. Even off the court, everybody loves having Spencer around and his energy and personality is great for the locker room.”
According to ESPN, this is not Dinwiddie’s first ACL issue:
Dinwiddie has experienced ACL injuries before. During his junior year at Colorado, Dinwiddie tore his left ACL in a game against Washington and missed the remainder of the season. At the time, he led the team in minutes played, scoring and assists.
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Replacing Dinwiddie Won’t Be Easy
The 27-year-old guard, originally drafted in the second round (No. 38 overall) by the Detroit Pistons back in 2014, has developed into a key contributor since arriving in Brooklyn in 2016 and was poised for a breakout season in 2020-21.
Dinwiddie saw his first significant action in 2017, averaging 28.8 minutes per night while starting 58-of-80 games. He continued his ascent in a reserve role again in 2018 before being thrust back into the starting lineup for 49 games last season, where he averaged career-bests in minutes (31.2), points (20.6), total rebounds (3.5) and assists (6.8) per game.
While the volume was on the uptick in 2019, his shooting efficiency (.415% from the field and .778% from the free-throw line) would have been areas of improvement to take his game to the next level this season, though now Dinwiddie won’t have the chance.
How will the Nets replace Dinwiddie? That’s the million-dollar question for anyone who picked the Nets to come out of the Eastern Conference this season. Though it may seem like it, the answer isn’t as simple as inserting fifth-year hybrid Caris LeVert into the starting lineup, as he has now assumed the leadership role of Brooklyn’s second unit.
Though this is gut-wrenching news for the Nets, Brooklyn can take one positive from this situation: they have a rotation that spans 10 players deep. This is where the team’s “next man up” mentality comes into play. With options like Landry Shamet, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Tyler Johnson coming off of the bench, the Nets may not miss a step this season, even with Dinwiddie’s absence.