The void created by leading scorer Caris LeVert’s foot injury has left Kenny Atkinson with a difficult decision to make regarding his starting backcourt, and the Nets’ coach remains unsure about the solution.
Shooting guard Allen Crabbe started in LeVert’s place on Wednesday night, but his season-long shooting slump continued as he scored six points in a 120-107 loss to the Heat at Barclays Center.
Spencer Dinwiddie, who has anchored Atkinson’s second unit all season with 14.2 points per game, is another option to start alongside point guard D’Angelo Russell, perhaps as early as Friday’s visit to Washington.
“Thought about it, we’re thinking about it. I think it’s on the table. We haven’t made a decision,” Atkinson said after practice on Thursday. “Obviously, bringing Allen into the starting lineup is trying to kick-start him, and trying to put a lot of shooting out there obviously with him and Joe [Harris].
I did like that lineup, but I’ve got to look at that and watch the tape again and see what that looks like for the second unit . . . It’s just I don’t have an answer right now. It’s up in the air.”
Dinwiddie and Russell haven’t shown great chemistry when on the floor concurrently this season, but Dinwiddie would provide a complementary player similar in size and versatility to LeVert, thereby freeing up Russell from having to take on the majority of the Nets’ ballhandling duties.
“I am not [averse] to playing those guys together. Last year they played a bunch together,” Atkinson said. “It’s a little bit about when you play them separately, they can kind of stagger their minutes. You start them together, that just might screw with that second unit. I feel like Spencer’s been in a good place, playing with the second unit . . . We’re going to have to figure it out.”
Dinwiddie responded “of course” when asked if he and Russell can flourish together, adding, “I think in a lot of ways, a lot of different stuff that people try to point to is much ado about nothing.”
He insisted he isn’t concerning himself with his status as a starter or a reserve. “I’ve had just about every role in the league possible, so I just take it in stride and try to help the team get wins in whatever role and in whatever way I can,” Dinwiddie said.
Atkinson likened Crabbe’s struggles this season to a baseball player “who has hit .340 his whole career and all of a sudden he’s mired in a .220 slump.” Crabbe, a 44 percent shooter in his first five NBA seasons, is shooting only 25.7 percent.
“You have to do anything you can to just keep shooting. Right now, that’s all I’m doing and I’m just waiting for that breakthrough,” he said. “ . . . It’s just really something I’m going through right now and I’ve got to figure it out.
Especially with the injury to Caris, guys have to step up, including myself. I’ve just got to stay positive about it and understand that it will pass and I’ll get back to my normal self eventually.”
Allen questionable. Center Jarrett Allen, who missed Wednesday’s game with an illness, worked out with the team and is questionable for Friday’s game, as is swingman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (ankle).