Grading Wizards-Mavericks trade contingent on Porzingis’ health, not Dinwiddie

What does Dinwiddie's Game 7 mean for Wizards-Mavs trade? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Spencer Dinwiddie scored 30 points to help his team win Game 7 and reach the conference finals… is a statement Wizards fans with time machines would have loved to read last summer when Washington signed Dinwiddie in free agency. The problem is all of that ended up happening for another team, the Dallas Mavericks, who traded for him at the deadline.

Dinwiddie was sensational in the Mavs’ blowout win over the Suns in Game 7 on Sunday night. He had 21 points in the first half as the Mavs built a lead that would reach 46 at its peak.

Dinwiddie’s performance was a reminder he found himself in an ideal situation when the Wizards traded him to Dallas along with Davis Bertans for Kristaps Porzingis and a second-round pick. Fit and opportunity can go a long way towards determining success in professional sports and Dinwiddie has fit like a glove in Dallas.

The Mavs needed someone who could make plays off the dribble and take some of the scoring burden off of superstar Luka Doncic. That’s just what Dinwiddie has done.

All of that, however, does not mean the Mavs won the trade or the Wizards have somehow lost it by getting rid of a player too soon. The winner of that trade will arguably be determined more than anything by how Porzingis performs in Washington and, specifically, whether he can stay healthy.

Dinwiddie may have landed in a comfortable spot for him, but Porzingis is still the best player who was in that deal, and by a good margin. The ceiling remains much higher for Porzingis, who is a former All-Star with career averages of 18.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.

Credit to Dinwiddie for coming through in a major moment for his team, but that well-timed performance was partly due to the different role he now serves for the Mavericks. While he was the Wizards’ starting point guard, in Dallas he comes off the bench and because of that isn’t relied on to the same degree. Dinwiddie had 30 points in Game 7, but also eight points in Game 1, four points in Game 3 and two points in Game 5, yet the Mavs still won the series.

The Wizards had Dinwiddie in a role where they couldn’t overcome performances like those. During his brief time in Washington, the Wizards went 5-11 when he scored under 10 points. Conversely, they were 7-2 when he scored 20 or more.

Dinwiddie stepping up in a big game like Sunday’s is also hard to apply to the Wizards, as he wouldn’t have been in that situation if he wasn’t traded. They finished the season 12th in the Eastern Conference and fell short of the postseason. A lot of things would have had to be different for Dinwiddie to deliver a playoff performance like that for the Wizards.

While Dinwiddie has made his mark in Dallas, the Wizards saw encouraging returns from Porzingis down the stretch of this season. In 17 games, he averaged 22.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while shooting 36.7% from three. If he carries those numbers while playing a high percentage of their games, the Wizards will be in good shape when it comes to re-evaluating the trade. He has a chance to be an ideal complement to Bradley Beal, as Dinwiddie has become for Doncic.

The question, again, is about health. Porzingis missed 31 games this season and 29 the year before. He has never appeared in more than 72 games in a single season and that was his rookie year in 2015-16. Since coming back from ACL surgery in 2019, he hasn’t played in more than 57 games in a single year.

That’s why the Wizards got him for two players – Dinwiddie and Bertans – who are older, not as accomplished and were on undesirable contracts when they were traded. Dinwiddie’s deal certainly looks better now.

It’s all about Porzingis’ availability, which has long been a question for him. The Wizards took a chance and time will tell if they made the right decision, but one game alone doesn’t provide a verdict on the trade.

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