Spencer Dinwiddie had every chance to claim the backup point guard spot this season. With Brandon Jennings out for the first few months of the season, the path was clear for Dinwiddie.
Then the Summer League came. Over the first two games, Dinwiddie shot 5-16 with 12 turnovers. He eventually settled down, but it wasn't enough to overcome the ugly start. The last of the five Summer League games ended on July 10. On July 13, the Pistons traded for Steve Blake.
Still, Dinwiddie had a chance. Steve Blake wasn't available to open the preseason games due to a concussion, so more minutes were available for Dinwiddie. He didn't play badly, but was hesitant running the offense and shot just 17 percent from three point range. Blake showed up for the final preseason game, dished 12 assists in 24 minutes, and looked electric compared to Dinwiddie's showing.
Still, Dinwiddie had a chance. Blake opened the season in a miserable shooting slump. Ten games in, Dinwiddie got the call as the backup - and he played great. 17 points on 9 shots, 4 assists with only one turnover. But he followed it up by being unplayable over the next four games, shooting just 26 percent.
That was it for chances. Blake's play improved, then Brandon Jennings returned. It was the D-League for Dinwiddie. By the time Jennings was traded, Blake was rightly the player who had earned Stan Van Gundy's trust.
Dinwiddie was solid, but unremarkable for the Grand Rapids Drive. Over 13 games Dinwiddie averaged 15 points, 6 assists, and 2.2 steals. His three point shooting was a respectable 34 percent.
He did have a couple of pretty impressive performances. In late January, he filled the box score with 24 points, 6 three pointers, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. He followed it up with 28 points, 3 three pointers, 8 assists, and a pair of both blocks and steals.
The plan in January was for Dinwiddie to finish the season with the Drive, but just a lingering ankle injury shut him down in early February.
Those couple of D-League games though, they provided a reminder to Spencer Dinwiddie's unique potential. At 6'6, he has the size. He's shown in college and the D-League that he's capable of shooting the ball. After looking like a combo guard coming out of college, he's shown himself to be a true point guard.
But the results aren't there. Too often he looks like he's playing on his heels in an offense where Stan Van Gundy looks for his point guards to get the ball up the court quickly. He shows the potential to be an excellent defender, but is too often susceptible to committing bad shooting fouls. And his three point shot has been completely absent in the NBA.
Now 23 years old and on the verge of his third NBA season, Dinwiddie's career hangs by a hair. Stan Van Gundy has indicated that improving the backup point guard position will be a priority. Dinwiddie's contract next season isn't guaranteed.
Van Gundy has shown that he likes to have veteran presence at backup point guard. So if the Pistons go with a point guard with their first round draft pick, Dinwiddie is probably as good as gone. But even if they bring in a free agent to fill the role, he still might not have a chance.
After a series of 10-day contracts, the Pistons signed Lorenzo Brown to a contract that included an unguaranteed deal for next season. It might not mean anything. The Pistons did the same with Quincy Miller last year, and it could also just be a tactic to keep Brown with the Grand Rapids Drive again for next year. But it might also mean plenty. Brown has played well in Grand Rapids. If he outperforms Dinwiddie in the summer, he could certainly usurp Dinwiddie's roster spot.
Dinwiddie had plenty of chances to stake his claim for his career this season. He didn't. Moving forward, he's going to need to make the best of every chance he gets.