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Mayor-Ball: Spencer Dinwiddie is a must-draft in fantasy basketball this year

Dinwiddie is being massively undervalued this season and needs to be on your fantasy team.

USA Today/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Last season, 10 players averaged 14 or more drives to the basket per game (and played in at least 41 games, or half the season):

  1. James Harden, 19.6 Drives Per Game (“DPG”), #4 Average Draft Position this year (ESPN Basic)
  2. DeMar DeRozan, 18.7 DPG, #26 ADP
  3. Russell Westbrook, 18.4 DPG, #13 ADP
  4. Trae Young, 17.6 DPG, #34 ADP
  5. Donovan Mitchell, 16.9 DPG, #32 ADP
  6. Jrue Holiday, 16.6 DPG, #33 ADP
  7. Kemba Walker, 15.2 DPG, #39 ADP
  8. Luke Doncic, 14.7 DPG, #16 ADP
  9. Jeff Teague, 14.1 DPG, #92 ADP
  10. Spencer Dinwiddie, 14.1 DPG, #107 ADP (only player on this list to average less than 30 Minutes Per Game, “MPG”)

For context, Giannis and LeBron both averaged 12+ DPG; they’re both in the top 5 in ADP this year.

What instantly jumps out is that all of those players above are being drafted in the top 50 except for Jeff Teague and Spencer Dinwiddie. Pete Rogers and I already touched on why we think Jeff Teague might be due for a big fantasy year on last week’s Long 2 Podcast (of course, you know that, because you listen to the pod, question mark?), and that list above is another good reason to think that Teague could be great this year.

But we’re not here to talk about Jeff Teague. We’re here for The Mayor.

Spencer Dinwiddie is a 26-year-old, 6’5” guard who comes off the bench for the Brooklyn Nets. He’s listed as Kyrie Irving’s backup at point guard, but odds are that they’ll share the floor quite a bit this season.

Last year, Dinwiddie averaged less than 30 minutes per game. The stats he averaged per game stand out because they’re similar numbers to other players, some elite, who played more. If given more minutes, could Dinwiddie produce similar fantasy value to the elites? Could he be a top 75 fantasy player getting drafted outside the top 100?

Last season, the Mayor was the 116th best player in fantasy (ESPN Basic), between Otto Porter Jr and Bogdan Bogdanovic. Dinwiddie had a better rating than Kyle Kuzma, Collin Sexton, Hassan Whiteside, and Andrew Wiggins, all players with higher ownership levels than Dinwiddie, so he was already undervalued.

In 2018-19, Dinwiddie averaged 28.1 Minutes Per Game (MPG) and 5.2 Free Throw Attempts (FTA) per game. Only 34 players in the entire NBA—out of those who played in at least 41 games, a constant throughout this piece—averaged 5+ FTA per game. Dinwiddie had the fourth lowest MPG of that group of 34: only Jusuf Nurkic, Sweet Lou Williams, and Montrezl Harrell averaged fewer minutes per game than Spencer AND averaged at least 5 free throws per game.

So, Dinwiddie’s in the top 10 in drives per game and top 35 in free throw attempts per game last year. These are two of the tenets of so-called Morey-Ball, the stats-driven strategy of the Houston Rockets, which emphasizes drives to the basket (which result in layups or trips to the foul line), and three pointers.

Last year, only 18 players (again, who played in at least 41 games) averaged 5+ FTA per game and 5+ 3-Point Attempts (3PA) per game. Dinwiddie is on that list. He is the ONLY player on that list to average less than 30 MPG. He was also the only player on that list of 18 to average less than 13 field goal attempts (FGA) per game.

Dinwiddie drives, Dinwiddie gets to the line, and Dinwiddie shoots from outside. It’s almost like the Three True Outcomes: Basketball Edition. He’s a perfect Houston Rocket, but he’s on the Brooklyn Nets.

Dinwiddie does all these things, but is he good at these things?

Last season, only 10 players in the entire NBA averaged 5+ FTA, 5+ 3PA, and shot at least 44% from the field (44 FG%):

  1. James Harden (4th in ADP this year)
  2. LeBron James (#5)
  3. Kawhi Leonard(#18)
  4. Devin Booker (#29)
  5. Kevin Durant (injured for the year, but a top 5 pick if he were healthy)
  6. Damian Lillard (#11)
  7. Bradley Beal (#14)
  8. Blake Griffin (#35)
  9. Danilo Gallinari (#61, too low)
  10. SPENCER DINWIDDIE (#107)

The Mayor is, again, the only player on that list of 10 incredible players to average less than 30 minutes per game. He had the same field goal percentage last season as James Harden (44.2 FG%). Harden had a much higher volume of shots, but efficiency is as efficiency does: last season, of everyone who averaged at least 12 shots per game, Spencer Dinwiddie had the same True Shooting Percentage (TS%) as Brad Beal, 58 TS%. Only 27 players in the NBA averaged a 58+ TS% last year on at least 12 shots per game. Seems pretty good.

Oh, and Dinwiddie passes.

Last year, of players who played in at least 41 games, and averaged LESS than 30 MPG, and averaged 12 or more shots per game, Spencer Dinwiddie was 4th in Assists Per Game (APG), after Eric Bledsoe (5.6 APG, currently #63 ADP), Lou Williams (5.4 APG, #69 ADP), and Dennis Smith, Jr. (4.8 APG, #128 ADP). That’s the starting point guard for a 60 win team, the Milwaukee Bucks; the perennial 6th Man of the Year Candidate, Sweet Lou; and, a highly drafted young point guard, who also was a starter, DSJ (Dinwiddie was a 2nd round draft pick).

Spencer Dinwiddie can pass, he can shoot from outside, he can drive to the basket, and he can get to the foul line. Given more minutes, he could ascend into top 75 fantasy production. As it stands, he can still provide plenty of value even if he doesn’t get the minutes, a la Sweet Lou. Dinwiddie is also now going to play off of Kyrie Irving, which could make his life on the offensive end easier (or, Devil’s Advocate, diminish his value if Kyrie hogs the ball).

Regardless, Dinwiddie is a player who seems primed for a bigger role. If you’re looking for a solid player who could jump into the top 100, Vote for the Mayor, Spencer Dinwiddie.

All stats and numbers courtesy of ESPN.com, NBA.com, and Basketball-Reference.com. Thank you!