Detroit Pistons: Analyzing the Spencer Dinwiddie pick

The Detroit Pistons drafted Colorado guard Spencer Dinwiddie with the 38th pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, that’s because Dinwiddie has been sidelined since January and wasn’t able to bolster his draft stock much. Regardless of the injury, there is no denying that he had a very impressive career with the Buffaloes.

Dinwiddie came to Colorado as a 3-star recruit out of California’s William Howard Taft High School. Rivals.com had him as the nation’s 25th-ranked point guard in the class of 2011. At Taft, Dinwiddie played alongside DeAndre Daniels, the former Connecticut Husky and national champion who coincidentally was picked by the Toronto Raptors one spot ahead of him in the draft.

Dinwiddie with his Colorado coach Tad Boyle.

Dinwiddie (right) with his former coach Tad Boyle.

Dinwiddie became an immediate contributor for the Buffaloes during his freshman year, and he helped to get Colorado back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003. He averaged 10 points-per-game, shot 3-pointers at a 43.8 percent clip and made his way onto the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team.

He started getting the attention of pro scouts during his sophomore campaign, where he upped his scoring average to 15.3 points while leading Colorado in assists. The 6-foot-6 Dinwiddie also took over as the team’s primary ball-handler. His play earned him a spot on the All-Pac-12 First Team. Following the season, he represented the United States at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Russia, where he led the team in assists.

Entering his junior year, Dinwiddie was considered to be a first-round talent by many. He led Colorado to a 14-2 record before an ACL tear on January 12 cost him the rest of his season. He was averaging 14.7 points, 3.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game before the injury; not to mention his impressive shooting splits.

The things that stood out to the Pistons about the 21-year-old were his versatility and consistency on the court, so Detroit confidently picked him despite the ACL tear. After watching some film on Dinwiddie, I’ve noticed a lot of things to like about him, while only spotting a few to dislike. Here’s my analysis:

Positives

detroit pistons1. The shot: Always finishes his shot with the same great follow-through. He also has the ability to pull-up off the dribble and from beyond NBA-range. He shot an impressive 83 percent from the free-throw line while also draining 38.6 percent of his 3-point shots in his two-and-a-half years at Colorado.

2. Body control: He is smooth on the court and always looks comfortable with the ball in his hands. He dribbles under control and keeps his turnovers low. His control, along with his excellent court vision, allows Dinwiddie to be an excellent pick-and-roll ball-handler. He doesn’t have superior athleticism, so he combats this by staying under control and utilizing pump-fakes to free up a shot or passing lane.

3. Scoring ability: Scoring is something the Pistons are going to need, especially as free agent Rodney Stuckey (and his 13.9 points-per-game average from last season) looks to sign elsewhere on July 1. Dinwiddie can hit 3’s, attack the rim, hit pull-up jump shots and, most importantly, get to the free-throw line.

4. Versatility and size: He calls himself a true point guard, yet he stands 6-foot-6. Dinwiddie will be able to play the 1 through the 3 in the NBA. Regardless of what position he plays at, the Pistons know that Dinwiddie is going to be  comfortable handling the ball. His length also aids him on defense, as his long arms help him disrupt passing lanes.

5. High Character: Stan Van Gundy made it known that the Pistons wanted to draft a guy with unquestionable character. Dinwiddie is experienced, well-spoken, unselfish and a great competitor. Detroit got the kind of guy they wanted.

Negatives

1. No left hand: In all of the film I’ve watched of Dinwiddie, I’ve yet to see him finish a layup with his left hand, even when he’s on the left side of the basket. He doesn’t seem as comfortable starting a rim attack with his left hand either. To me, this was the most glaring negative about his game.

2. Not an elite athlete: He isn’t the fastest or most explosive player, but he makes up for this with smart play and good lateral quickness. It still remains to be seen if he can hang with the speed of today’s NBA guards.

3. Shot selection: He can get a little erratic with his shot selection at times, but perhaps that was because he was his team’s main scoring threat. He needs to learn to always have his head up and be looking for teammates instead of forcing shot now that he is in the NBA.

Grading the Dinwiddie pick: B+

Grading draft picks can be very subjective because sometimes they take years to pan out, but I believe Dinwiddie can be considered a steal at pick 38. The Pistons drafted a player who is great at basketball, not some athletic specimen who has all the potential to become one someday. Dinwiddie is going to be able to contribute in many positive ways the minute he works his way back onto the court. The ACL injury is literally the only reason that he wasn’t selected in the first round. Although he may not be able to play for the majority of the coming season, he still has plenty of time to prove his worth. I think this was a quality pick by the Pistons, especially at that juncture of the draft, where the talent tends to start thinning out.