CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It has been a month since the Nets lost Spencer Dinwiddie with a right thumb injury that required surgery, and it has become apparent how much they miss the player who was one of the leading contenders for the Sixth Man award when he went down. After beating the tanking Knicks in the first game without Dinwiddie, the Nets went 3-7 in the next 10 before facing the Hornets Saturday night at Spectrum Center.
At the moment, Dinwiddie is the only Net who is out with an injury, but Kenny Atkinson admits it has been a struggle to find the right lineups as players get healthy. Against the Hornets, Atkinson used Rodions Kurucs instead of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in his first half rotation.
“We are having to tinker with some stuff as we get guys back,” Atkinson said. “Guys that are used to playing minutes aren’t playing as many minutes. Some guys aren’t playing. Sure, we miss Spencer. He’s a heck of a player and one of our best players, but we’re hoping he’ll be back soon.”
Asked where the Nets miss Dinwiddie the most, Atkinson said, “I’d just say his downhill play. He gets in the paint all the time, he collapses the defense with his speed and athleticism and his drives. I don’t think we’ve been as drive-oriented without him. He’s one of the best drivers in the league, so we definitely miss that.”
There is no official timetable for Dinwiddie’s return, but some reports called it a six-week injury, meaning he might be out up to two more weeks. Atkinson said Dinwiddie’s return will require another adjustment, but that’s a good problem to have.
“The issue there is we don’t have a big runway to kind of figure it out,” Atkinson said of his rotation. “This is money time now. We’re going to have to find our best lineup soon, and when Spencer comes back, we’ll have to kind of reconfigure it again. It’s part of this league.”