Donte DiVincenzo proving to be a big piece to the Bucks’ early season success
By Tyler Job
Donte DiVincenzo’s career with the Milwaukee Bucks started promising, but got unlucky.
His play on the court wasn’t the main problem during his rookie year, either. He averaged 4.9 points per game on 40 percent shooting, 2.4 rebounds per game and just over an assist per game in 27 games off the bench.
But the Bucks did not see him after that because of a nagging foot injury that required him to sit out the rest of the season.
We’ll never know whether or not he would have been used often in the playoffs, but he was producing on the court whenever his number was called before getting hurt.
DiVincenzo did not even play the first two games this season, and only played two minutes Oct. 28 against Cleveland.
But head coach Mike Budenholzer gave him a chance in Milwaukee’s first meeting with the Magic, and The Big Ragu sauced things up without hesitation. In just 17 minutes of action, DiVincenzo tallied 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-7 behind the arc, three rebounds, three dimes, two steals and a blocked shot. Not to mention his plus-minus of +34 was the highest out of all Bucks players that night in Milwaukee’s 123-91 victory.
DiVincenzo’s been cooking on the court ever since, like noodles in a hot pan. Whether he’s scoring, rebounding, passing, stealing, whichever it may be, he is always making an impact somewhere.
Bucks fans did not really know what to expect who would be Khris Middleton’s temporary replacement after getting hurt with a left thigh contusion in Nov. 10’s game against Oklahoma City. But DiVincenzo answered the call effectively.
His first game as a starter came against the Chicago Bulls, where he registered four points on 2-of-5 shooting, five boards, two assists, one steal, and three turnovers. He still ended up with a plus-minus of +5.
The 22-year-old shooting guard scored in double figures in seven of the 10 games he started, averaging 10.5 points during that stretch.
But it’s not that DiVincenzo wasn’t producing just as a starter. He averaged 9.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game throughout November. Yes, 4.6 rebounds per game as a 6 ft., 4 in. shooting guard. He is everywhere.
Milwaukee lost just one game (one!) in November, winning 15 of 16 en route to one of its best months ever. While it always takes a team effort to accomplish such outstanding play, it cannot be denied DiVincenzo played a fairly big role in helping establish the Bucks’ dominance.
DiVincenzo was sent back to the bench once Middleton returned to the starting lineup Dec. 2 against the New York Knicks, but even then still made an impact in a 44-point blowout win with 11 points, two rebounds, two steals, and an assist and a block each in just 19 minutes. All of that totaled to a plus-minus of +11. Maybe it’s just me, but it always feels like he is on the positive end of the plus-minus. Whenever you’re on the good side of that category, you’re contributing well somewhere in at least one area.
In Milwaukee’s best defensive effort of the season to date against the Clippers Dec. 6, The Big Ragu stole the ball four times — the most on the squad — in addition to 11 points and five boards for a plus-minus of +15. Again, he is everywhere.
The Bucks are on a historic 15-game winning streak, with DiVincenzo continuing to play at a high level in their unprecedented 21-3 start. To this point, DiVincenzo leads the team in steals with 1.6 per game, while also averaging 8.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He leads the Bucks with 4.5 deflections per 36 minutes with more than 100 minutes played. He is also sixth on the team with a 14.11 player efficiency rating. One more time, he is everywhere.
He is an athletic, unpredictable playmaker. It’s like his aggressive style of play is similar to a full plate of spaghetti, chewing up the competition only like a Big Ragu ever would.
DiVincenzo’s presence on the court has only been positive so far, and he’s only going to keep saucing it up the more opportunities he gets.