The Brooklyn Nets have been one of the more pleasant surprises of this NBA season, as Kenny Atkinson’s team has crossed the midway point of the season with an above-.500 record and sit solidly in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
There are a number of players playing at a high level in Brooklyn right now, but few have had the impact of sixth-man extraordinaire Spencer Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie recently inked a contract extension with the Nets to keep him in Brooklyn for two or three more years, pending a player option, that will pay him around $11 million per year.
Dinwiddie is firmly in the Sixth Man of the Year Award race, but on Thursday it was reported by former NBA player and current TV and radio analyst Caron Butler that the Nets guard would be sidelined for a month or more with torn ligaments in his hand.
Shams Charania of The Athletic later confirmed Butler’s report.
The Nets, meanwhile, would only say Dinwiddie is being evaluated for a right thumb injury, and they are awaiting an official diagnosis and timetable.
If Butler’s report is indeed accurate (and there’s little reason to believe it is not) it’s a huge loss for the Nets. Dinwiddie is averaging 17.2 points per game off the bench, trailing only D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert for points per game — and LeVert is still out as well after dislocating his ankle earlier this season.
With LeVert and Dinwiddie sidelined, the Nets will have to lean more on Russell and others like Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen to pick up the scoring punch. One would expect Shabazz Napier to see more minutes in Dinwiddie’s absence, but it will be a true test of the Nets depth over the coming month as to how they’ll handle another major loss.