Atlanta – — It wasn't a case of the jitters, but Spencer Dinwiddie's first real bite of NBA experience left him wanting more and the decision-makers wanting to see more — be it on the floor with the team or the D-League in Grand Rapids.
"As a guy playing in his second game in 10 months, going from playing in college and being out, then one exhibition game and two short stints in NBA games, that's how he played," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said.
Dinwiddie, the second-round Pistons pick who missed most of last college season with a torn ACL, was solid defensively, as Van Gundy wanted another point guard on the floor against the Phoenix Suns' three-headed monster of Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas.
Offensively, though, he seemed to be a step slow — not uncommon for a player who played with pace at Colorado as opposed to the mile-a-minute style of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
On a fast break, Dinwiddie had an open lane for a layup, but with high-flying Sun Gerald Green trailing for a possible blocked shot, Dinwiddie kicked it out to an unprepared D.J. Augustin on the baseline, resulting in a common look of pain from Van Gundy on the sidelines.
Statistically, Dinwiddie didn't do much in 13 minutes, missing his three shot attempts while going to the free throw line, making both, and with a turnover trying to feed Andre Drummond inside.
"Obviously I had a turnover, I should've wrapped it around to Dre," Dinwiddie said. "On defense I was pretty good. I think that was pretty much it."
All things considered, Van Gundy expected some uneven play, which can only be rectified with experience. How he'll get playing time, unless Brandon Jennings or Augustin goes down with injury, remains a mystery — leading to the option of sending him to Grand Rapids just to get more reps.
"He was a little tentative on the offensive end of the floor, but it's to be expected," Van Gundy said. "We have to get him playing time, whether it's here or Grand Rapids. He needs to play basketball; it's been a long time."
"We haven't decided on a timetable. But he needs to play. We need him here Sunday and Monday because we'll get two good practices. That's where we have to balance."
Dinwiddie understands the "seen but not heard" mantra often applied to rookies, so he's not hinting if he has a preference to stay with the team or to go to the D-League.
"You know, I'll do whatever they think is best," Dinwiddie said. "If that's what they want, I'll do it. I don't really have an opinion on it. I'll play hard if I'm here, play hard if I'm there."
Pulling Dinwiddie away from the team would be a reprieve from his rookie duties, as every NBA rookie has them, but because he's the only rookie in Detroit, the veterans are piling on.
"I don't know if he has an assigned vet," said backup center Joel Anthony. "It's more of a collective effort with Spence. That's the best way to put it."
Whether it's having to sing in front of the team, or carrying a goofy backpack around, he's catching it all.
"Everybody think they're my vet. Everybody from Year 2 to Year 13," Dinwiddie said. "It's a learning experience. It's been a lot of fun so far. I've been enjoying it. I wouldn't trade it for the world."
Martin needs to be seen
Before plantar fasciitis grounded Cartier Martin, he was in Van Gundy's rotation, even as a player on the veteran's minimum. But Van Gundy seemed annoyed at his slow recovery, which has set him back in the pecking order off the bench.
"He hasn't really had a chance to get back in the flow," Van Gundy said. "He may get in (Friday night). But after (Friday), he'll get some practices in Sunday and Monday and we'll see where he's at. To be honest, I've seen very, very little of him in a month."
Van Gundy doesn't believe it would be unfair to just throw Martin out there, but he's not sure what he'll get.
"I haven't really seen him and we'll see. The other night, we used Spencer as a backup (shooting guard)," Van Gundy said. "We may do that tonight. It's a tough matchup for him. We'll see what happens.
"He was in the rotation and he'll get a chance to get back in. But we'll have to see him some, in practice, before I'm comfortable just throwing him in there. He missed a lot of time."