Second-year guard Donte DiVincenzo of the Milwaukee Bucks is slowly but surely finding his footing and making an impact on both ends of the court.
Life is good for the Milwaukee Bucks and their fans. The team is currently on a 15-game winning streak and despite the guard position still being an area of weakness, it hasn’t mattered in the grand scheme.
Back to the guard spot. While the departure of Malcolm Brogdon certainly left a void to fill, it’s been a wing-by-committee situation in Milwaukee thus far. Head coach Mike Budenholzer has put several lineups on the court due to it not being clear who’s best suited for the job. Last year’s first-round pick, Donte DiVincenzo, has done his part in fitting into the puzzle.
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The former Villanova standout’s 2018-19 season was cut short due to injury. In 27 games (zero starts), the college sharpshooter averaged 4.9 points per game on 40.3 percent shooting from the field and 26.5 percent from deep. While he was able to make his presence felt on the defensive end, it wasn’t enough to call his rookie campaign anything close to a success.
After having an offseason to get healthy and work on his game, DiVincenzo has certainly been better to start the 2019-20 season. On the year, the 22-year-old has raised his scoring average to 8.7 points per game and is shooting a much more respectable 34.2 percent from beyond the arc in 21.1 minutes a contest.
While his field goal percentage remains a concern (42.1 percent), it’s important to remember that DiVincenzo has played just over half a season’s worth of games thus far in his career. Improvement should come with experience in that regard as he learns how to seek more quality looks.
In the Hoops Habit breakdown of DiVincenzo’s rookie season, rebounding and defense were highlighted as two immediate strengths. Being just 6-foot-4 hasn’t stopped him from being a rebounding machine, as he’s currently averaging a whopping 7.4 boards per 36 minutes.
On defense, where Milwaukee is currently the best team in the league per the NBA’s official site, DiVincenzo has also made a tremendous impact.
DiVincenzo has amassed 1.6 steals on a per-night basis. When extrapolated out to per 36 minutes, that number jumps to 2.7. That would’ve led the NBA a season ago — and by a comfortable margin. Basketball-Reference’s Defensive Box Plus/Minus (DBPM) grades him as a clear positive on that end, giving him a 2.1 rating.
Adding icing to the cake, DiVincenzo has seen his first bit of extended playing time this season. Starting half of his 20 total appearances with Milwaukee, he’s shooting 45.6 percent from the field and averaging 10.5 points per game as a member of Budenholzer’s starting lineup.
The sample size may be small, but that is huge for the future. Should the Bucks get bitten by the injury bug again, they’ll have yet another semi-proven commodity to throw into the lineup with full faith that he’ll get the job done.
Donte DiVincenzo is far from a perfect player. While other Milwaukee Bucks wing options like Sterling Brown, Kyle Korver and Wesley Matthews all offer different strengths and weaknesses, DiVincenzo is years away from his ceiling and is beginning to cater his play to fit what he does best.
As the season unfolds, look for his role to become more defined within Budenholzer’s system.