Spencer Dinwiddie 1-on-1: Mavs' guard on growing his game, Tony Brothers and more
Spencer Dinwiddie came to Dallas as a solution to the Mavericks’ roster dilemma — not so much him as a player as his salary being needed to send away Kristaps Porzingis’, someone the team decided no longer made sense for its future given his contract. Since then, Dinwiddie has become the Mavericks’ second most-important player, a crucial foil to Luka Dončić’s shot creation and a locked-in starter. Dinwiddie’s never averaged more minutes in his career than this season, and the 29-year-old’s role is crucial to this team’s success.
I caught up with Dinwiddie earlier this week about a number of topics that had come up in postgame press conferences, including his shooting percentages, his tendency for interview monologues and how the assistant coaches on the Mavericks operate, something I wrote about earlier this week. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
We were just talking about your shooting percentages (in the postgame press conference after beating Portland), and I pulled the stats for those. Your catch-and-shoot percentage is up to 45 percent since joining Dallas. In your two full seasons in Brooklyn, you were 37 percent. Your pull-up percentage is 40 percent; two seasons in Brooklyn, it was 29 percent. That speaks to just what exactly you were saying the other night.
Yeah, exactly. You shoot more catch-and-shoots, which I was solid at, 37 (percent) is a very respectable percentage. With the pull-up 3s, it’s in transition or it’s off an (isolation), where I get to measure my steps. Things like that, as opposed to late clock (situations). I took a lot of 3-2-1 (seconds remaining) shots and end-of-game 3s. Buzzer-beating 3s. I have a couple of those here, too, but it’s just not that many.
And obviously, with that 29 percent being the majority of your shots, you’re going to shoot 30, 31 (percent). That’s where you get that number (overall 3-point percentage) from, because it’s right there close to the pull-up 3 percentage, versus it being 35, 36 percent, which is what I would actually be at shooting catch-and-shoots all the time.
You said “measure your steps.” That makes sense intuitively to me, but what does that mean, your perspective on the court, being the shooter?
You just gauge how a defense is playing you. A lot of times, when you see me get to the stepbacks now, it’s on a guard or a big that backs up a ton. I already know I got the space for the shot, I’m not moving at a high rate of speed. The difficulty of the shot, it’s still there because I’m dribbling versus a catch-and-shoot, but it’s different in terms of knowing what’s going on.
If you’re in a 3-2-1 shot at the end of the game, you’re trying to win the game, and they’re trapping you, that’s a very hard shot. I don’t care who’s guarding you.
What’s your view on stats? I’m sure you find stuff like this interesting, but how often do you actually get told or ask for a stat that’s helping you on the court?
Typically, stats are helpful when someone’s struggling. It may give you an idea what you should stay away from, what you can do knowing your own game. But context helps build the stat. It’s always going to be easier for a guy who’s not covered shooting corner 3s — catch-and-shoot, open — than it’s going to be for someone primarily covered. If you’re the first, second, even third option on the team, you’re always going to be guarded differently than if you’re an auxiliary guy. It’s just different.
So, you’ve had a few monologues lately. Have you always been like that?
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Yeah, early on in my career going back to college, sometimes I would say something that would be more of a snippet and it would be taken the wrong way. (It would be) ran with however it was. I got in the habit (that) if someone asked me a question that I needed to expand upon, I just would. I feel like my vocabulary is good enough to give a comprehensive thought so it’s not taken the wrong way, and that’s kind of where the monologues came from. You’d ask me a question, and I’d just give a full answer.
Do you know you’re going to say them beforehand? The ones I remember, you were talking about being traded from the Wizards in Washington. There’s obviously the one about Dwight Powell. And the Tony Brothers one was a unique situation, but—
Yeah, the only one that I thought about prior was (about) Tony Brothers. I was mad when they told me in the locker room. And I have no problem with someone needing to get something off their chest to me, and allow me to have my response.
The reason I was so frustrated was, you know what I’m saying, I felt like I was getting baited. You already called a quick tech, and if you say that to my face and have a response, you can throw me out of the game by the letter of the law. That was moreso, like, “Yo, what are we doing here?” I don’t mind if someone’s mad. Like I said, if a ref gets mad, cool. I can say something, too. Whatever I say back, we just keep it in the fire of the game type vibe. Whereas, it’s like, you come over and it’s, like, “Watch what I’m going to do to you.” And now I have two hands tied behind my back. You’re already not going to get no calls at the rim. Now you can’t really even say nothing. You can’t even let your frustration out. You’re just sitting there, like I said, both hands tied behind your back. I was upset about that.
The other ones were just based off questions I asked. I just wanted to say what I was completely feeling at the time. Yeah.
Did anything come of the Tony Brothers one? I know the NBA said they were investigating.
They asked me. I told them what happened. I was very clear with that part. After that, they do what they do, I don’t know.
Is that a situation where the next time you see him in a game, you’d want to have a quick conversation with him?
Not really. I don’t really talk to no refs like that. That’s what I’m trying to say. The aspect that I didn’t like was not saying it to me in the heat of it. Not really what was said. I’m sure refs say things all the time, in the same way players say things all the time. It was the behind the back baiting aspects of it that I was upset about.
A few questions about the assistant coaches. I was in New Orleans, and I was watching you warm up with Jared Dudley. And he was imitating the Pelicans defenders that you were about to face, kind of changing his gait and the way he was closing out based on that. Is that something he does?
Yeah, me and JD used to play together. He used to be a coach on the floor back in Brooklyn, too, give me little snippets and tidbits that could help me better in real time. And now, he’s just doing the same from the coaching aspect. It’s a very familiar relationship.
I hear he likes asking questions, even about something very esoteric, like, “Who invented shootaround?”
Do any questions like that come to mind? Or, what about that really identifies with the personality he has?
It’s just who he is, really. I don’t know why. [laughs] He’s been like that, you just get used to it.
What do you think of this coaching staff overall? The vibe, they’re relatively young.
I think it’s a great mixture. You’ve got a great mixture. (Jason) Kidd, Hall of Famer. You’ve got (Dudley), former player, great basketball mind. You’ve got (God) Shammgod, who obviously, especially in terms of streetball culture, is phenomenal. DA (Darrell Armstrong) played. KT (Kristi Toliver), Hall of Famer, too. You’ve got a lot of basketball people in here. So they understand the player’s perspective better than most staffs I’ve been (around).
How similar or different are the practices they conduct? For example, have you seen situations where the head coach isn’t the one leading practice. Because Sean Sweeney and Greg St. Jean do that.
Yeah, St. Jean and Sweeney do most of everything. Sweeney doing the defense, St. Jean doing the offense. It might be akin to football in that way, where there’s an offensive coordinator and a defensive coordinator doing the breakdowns.
What I’ve heard is that, basically, when Jason does choose to step in, his voice has that much more weight.
Yeah, of course. And like I said, he’s a Hall of Fame point guard. He’s probably a top-five to top-10 point guard (ever). When he steps in and says, “Look at this play from this angle or this perspective,” of course you’re gonna listen.
(Photo: Rob Carr / Getty Images)