Spencer Dinwiddie, 6-foot-6 point guard, Colorado
2013-14 stats: 14.7 PPG, 3.8 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.5 SPG, .466 FG%, .413 3P% (through 17 games)
Some observers believed it was a curious decision when Dinwiddie opted to forgo his final year of college eligibility and declare for the draft, but many NBA personnel have long regarded the guard with intrigue. If he can demonstrate that he’s sufficiently recovered from a midseason ACL injury, Dinwiddie’s potential value as an oversized ballhandler and skilled scorer mesh well with the trend of the league’s current backcourt talent. A lightly-touted recruit out of Los Angeles, Dinwiddie helped put Colorado, traditionally known for its football program, on the map as a rising hoops power and certainly one of the upper-echelon teams in the Pac-12 Conference.
Career highlights: Dinwiddie played major minutes as a freshman, averaging an even 10 points per game as a steady contributor, consistent deep threat and showing glimpses of his potential, as Colorado won the Pac-12 tournament. He made major strides as a sophomore, functioning as more of an on-the-ball playmaker, while improving as a scorer — he averaged 15.3 points per game — though not being inefficient in the process. Dinwiddie was an all-conference performer thanks to games like his career-high 29-point effort to beat in-state rival Colorado State, a 21-point, seven-assist outing in a win over Arizona and 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists in a victory against Oregon. The guard was putting it all together as a junior, exemplified by his averages of 14.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals a contest, to go along with 41.3-percent shooting from three-point range, 85.7 percent from the charity stripe and 46.6 percent from the field, and had quality wins like a marquee upset over Kansas (15 points, seven assists) and a signature triumph over Oregon (23 points, seven assists) under his belt before his devastating, season-ending injury.
[MORE: NBA Draft Profile: Creighton's Doug McDermott]
Strengths: Dinwiddie’s size and versatility are the two aspects of his game that stand out immediately. He has the ability to play both backcourt positions, but excelled most with the ball in his hands, leading many observers to believe that he’ll be best served as a scoring point guard on the next level. Smooth, long and unselfish, Dinwiddie doesn’t overly dominate the ball and doesn’t force shots, while having a knack for getting to the free-throw line. Also a proficient outside shooter, his perimeter marksmanship allows him to either shoot over the top of smaller guards or play off the ball alongside a smaller, traditional point guard. Although he isn’t blazing quick, his length helps him on the defensive end, as well as on the interior, from finishing in the paint to contributing on the glass.
Weaknesses: If Dinwiddie is indeed going to play point guard on a full-time basis, his lateral quickness will be tested on the defensive end, particularly coming off rehabilitation from ACL surgery. The speed merchants of the NBA would likely already give him trouble when healthy, so a diligent recovery process is necessary just to have a chance at being a competent defender and even then, staying in front of his point-guard counterparts will be a significant challenge. Dinwiddie’s effectiveness playing off the ball is more of an issue of strength, as the slender guard would need to bulk up regardless, but certainly to handle some of the more physical wings he’d face at shooting guard, both on the defensive end and when finishing inside himself.
Draft projection: As he’s still recovering from his knee injury, franchises won’t be able to get the full spectrum of what Dinwiddie brings to the table, in terms of working out and in head-to-head competition with his peers. But he won’t be a forgotten man on the night of the draft and while it would be surprising to see a team take a chance on Dinwiddie even in the late first round, he’s almost a lock to be selected in the second, as an organization would be able to monitor the tail end of his rehabilitation without making a big financial commitment. Assuming his recovery goes smoothly and he can pick up where he left off, Dinwiddie is an intriguing option for a team’s guard rotation, giving them size, ballhandling, shooting and versatility all in one package. Given his heady game, Dinwiddie should be given the opportunity to be a situational player, at worst, after some seasoning and in the right system, he could be a nice complement to a smaller scoring guard with his playmaking ability and possessing the size to guard wing players.