As we continue the runup to training camp, now just six days away, I’ve sicced The Doppelgänger Machine on Wizards newcomers Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Today: guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
A little ballyhooed second round draft pick, Dinwiddie played poorly in scant minutes during his first two years with the Detroit Pistons. He became a bona fide NBA player when he moved on to Brooklyn.
At 6-5, Dinwiddie is big, aggressive and strong. He attacks off the dribble and does a good job drawing fouls. Interestingly, he’s been productive with low, average and high usage rates.
Overall, he’s been basically average to a little better the past several seasons. Here’s his PPA season-by-season (PPA is my overall production metric. In PPA, 100 is average, higher is better, and 45 is replacement level).
- 2014-15 — DET — 25
- 2015-16 — DET — 4
- 2016-17 — BRK — 84
- 2017-18 — BRK — 117
- 2018-19 — BRK — 85
- 2019-20 — BRK — 109
- 2020-21 — BRK — 76
Since his 2020-21 season was limited to just three games due to a knee injury, I’m using his 2019-20 season for the Doppelgänger exercise.
The Statistical Doppelgänger Machine works by comparing a player’s performance across 14 different categories that include age, playing time, pace-neutral box score stats and scores from my PPA metric. All that’s rolled up into a single score that (in theory) provides a list of NBA players since 1977-78 with similar production at a similar age.
- Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards, 2007-08 — Don’t get excited. This was the ghost of Arenas when he first attempted to return from his own injury. Arenas played just 425 minutes that season, and I’m including him as a reference point. This much-diminished Arenas had a 100 PPA that season. Dinwiddie’s reference season rated a 109.
- Reggie Jackson, Detroit Pistons, 2015-16 — This was before Jackson started getting hurt all the time. Very similar usage and relative efficiency. Both players were high usage, solid scorers and good playmakers.
- Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics, 2015-16 — The year before Thomas went supernova and became an MVP candidate. And before he hurt his hip and destroyed the Wizards in the postseason anyway.
- De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings, 2019-20 — High usage guard with subpar three-point shooting, frequent trips to the free throw line and good playmaking. That described Fox and Dinwiddie.
- John Starks, New York Knicks, 1992-93 — This was Starks during his just a little better than average heyday. For those too young to have seen Starks play, he was tough and annoying and a leading offensive player on defense-first Knicks teams.
- Dennis Schroder, Atlanta Hawks, 2017-18 — According to my metric, this was Schroder’s best season — PPA: 102.
- Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns, 2016-17 — With a 134 PPA, this was actually kind of a down year for Bledsoe. He went on to play the best regular season ball of his career over the next three seasons in Milwaukee. Then he melted down in each of the postseasons and the Bucks swapped him for Jrue Holiday. The Wizards would be fortunate for Dinwiddie to take a similar career trajectory. That’s not likely to happen — Bledsoe was just better.
- Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans, 2015-16 — A down year for Holiday (115 PPA sandwiched between seasons of 130 or better). Similar style of production, though Holiday was a much better defender.
- Dennis Schroder, Oklahoma City Thunder, 2019-20 — Don’t get too excited. The Official Narrative was that Schroder had a bounceback year with the Thunder. In truth his PPA fell from 102 in his last season with the Hawks to 91 in OKC.
- Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards, 2009-10 — Don’t get excited. This was Arenas’ third try at a comeback from knee injuries and he managed a 104 over 32 games before being sidelined for bringing guns into the locker room.
Other names high on the list of comparables, according to the Doppelgänger Machine: Jamal Crawford, Lou Williams, Caris LeVert, and D’Angelo Russell.
Next through the machine: Montrezl Harrell.