In what could be a major blow to the upstart Nets, Spencer Dinwiddie, who has dominated in a bench role this season, could miss significant time with a right thumb injury.
A serious contender for the N.B.A.’s Sixth Man of the Year Award, Dinwiddie, a fifth-year guard, has averaged 17.2 points and 5.0 assists a game, regularly coming through in big moments for the Nets, one of the most surprising teams in the N.B.A.
The news of Dinwiddie’s injury was first reported by Caron Butler, a former N.B.A. star who began working for Fox Sports Radio shortly after announcing his retirement last February, rather than by the team or a reporter.
The injury was then confirmed by the Nets, with the team saying more information would be provided once the diagnosis had been completed.
Dinwiddie, 25, was a second-round pick of the Detroit Pistons in 2015, but after failing to catch on in stints with the Pistons and the Chicago Bulls — and after several stints in the N.B.A.’s development league — he signed with the Nets as a free agent in December 2016.
His first season in Brooklyn was fairly uneventful, with an average of 7.3 points a game in a bench role, but last season was thrust into a starting role as a result of injuries to D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin, and he thrived with career-high averages of 12.6 points and 6.6 assists.
He came into this season still unsure of his future, talking openly about feeling a lack of security with his place on the team, but he blossomed as the team’s first man off the bench, essentially alternating big games with Russell and serving as his team’s closer in tight games. Ten times this season he has scored 25 or more points off the bench, with his high mark coming on Dec. 12 when he poured in 39 in a win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Dinwiddie’s play has generated some buzz around a potential All-Star appearance. More important, it inspired the team to sign him to a three-year, $34 million contract extension in December.
The Nets are already without the team’s second-leading scorer, Caris LeVert, who dislocated his right foot in November. The team has not announced a timetable for Dinwiddie’s return, but should Butler’s reporting prove accurate, the 26-23 Nets, who have risen to the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, could be without their third-leading scorer for quite a while.