The Kyrie Irving trade hurts the Nets and the Rockets
Will Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith elevate the Nets?
Spencer Dinwiddie’s contributions to the Dallas Mavericks this season have been significantly overlooked. He’s asked to play an incredibly tough brand of basketball as an on-ball creator and has flourished. Is Dinwiddie as good as Kyrie Irving? No, but he is still an excellent player.
This season, he’s averaging 17.7 points, 5.3 assists, and only 1.7 turnovers on an effective field goal percentage of 55.5%. While not an All-Star, Dinwiddie is in the class of players right out of the All-Star conversation. His ability to run effective NBA offense makes him an excellent fit next to any superstar, and he will carry a team to victory from time to time. Is it enough to convince Durant to stay in Brooklyn? Time will tell, but he’s not a massive step down from Irving.
The other player heading to Brooklyn, Dorrian Finney-Smith, is one of the league’s best role players. He’s the prototypical 3-and-D wing that every contender swears they need more of. Over the past four seasons, Finney-Smith has averaged 10.0 points and 5.2 rebounds on 38.3% 3-point shooting while playing exceptional defense.
With Finney-Smith, the Nets should be able to field one of the league’s best perimeter defenses. The combination of Finney-Smith, Royce O’Neale, Kevin Durant, and Ben Simmons is one of the largest and most adept rotations of perimeter defenders. Throw in Nic Claxton and Yuta Watanabe, and suddenly the Nets have the combination of size, speed, and switchability on the defensive end to be an elite unit. For as great of a player as Irving is, he has never been a strong defender.
There is a real possibility that the Nets, so long as Durant is healthy, are a better team with Dinwiddie and Finney-Smith than Irving. The drop from Irving to Dinwiddie on offense is real, but so is the defensive upgrade. As long as Durant enjoys the heavy lifting on offense, there isn’t a reason to believe that the Nets are demonstrably worse than they were.