Milwaukee Bucks: Importance of DiVincenzo and Connaughton

The Milwaukee Bucks have had many bright spots to start the season, including the high energy play of both Donte DiVincenzo and Pat Connaughton.

As the Milwaukee Bucks proudly sit atop the East, holding a 17-3 record that’s tied with the Lakers for the league’s best, their success is down to a wide variety of factors.

Most obviously, the MVP-caliber play of Giannis Antetokounmpo drives the team forward, but there’s still more than the Greek Freak that makes this team tick.

Part of that is the sheer number of role players who are always engaged, prepared to contribute, and ready to give energy when opportunities come their way. On that front, there’s one duo that particularly comes to mind.

After an injury-riddled rookie season, it appeared former Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo was ready to go and earn his spot on this Milwaukee Bucks team. Coming off the bench early in the season, the 22-year-old was showing signs of promise, primarily his scoring and his defensive game.

That stellar play earned DiVincenzo a starting spot in the wake of Khris Middleton’s thigh injury suffered on November 10th. Ever since then, DiVincenzo has been a spark for the Bucks, averaging 10.5 points in the 10 games he has started.

On the season as a whole, DiVincenzo is averaging 8.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.5 assists on 43.4 percent shooting. His best game of the season came on November 4 in a 134-106 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Still coming off the bench at the time, DiVincenzo scored a career-high 17 points to go along with seven rebounds. Shooting 54.5 percent from the field that night, DiVincenzo helped contribute meaningfully to the team’s blowout win.

The scoring for DiVincenzo has been hit or miss at times this season, having games with 17,16 and 15 points, but also having multiple without scoring at all. This inconsistent scoring is not something to be concerned about as the second-year guard is adjusting to his role from bench to starter.

Something being overlooked about the guard is the defense he has been playing, though. DiVincenzo currently ranks second on the team in steals with 1.4 per game (24 total), slightly behind Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 1.5 per game (30 total). These steals are leading to fastbreak opportunities and giving DiVincenzo more chances to make plays in transition. With his confidence growing each game, expect DiVincenzo to continue his sensational play for the Bucks as the season progresses.

Though Pat Connaughton’s minutes have been hit or miss throughout the start of the season, the former Notre Dame guard is always ready for the call off the bench. Connaughton, 26, is mostly known for his dynamic dunks, three-point shooting, and speed that continuously leads to highlight-reel plays.

These highlight-worthy plays provide a spark off the bench like no other. Connaughton’s season stats are not the most eye-catching, averaging 5.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.7 assists on 47.6 percent shooting from the field. The injury to Middleton opened the door to Connaughton for more minutes, and he has taken advantage of the opportunity. On November 21, Connaughton had his best game of the season, scoring a season-high 18 points, grabbing four rebounds, and dishing two assists en route to defeating his former team, the Portland Trail Blazers 137-129.

Like DiVincenzo, Connaughton also provides an essential presence on defense, but rather than steals, it is with his shot-blocking abilities. Likely thanks to his insane 44 inch vertical, Connaughton is third on the team in blocked shots at 0.6 blocks per game (10 total), behind Brook Lopez’s 2.4 (45 total), and Antetokounmpo’s 1.4 (26 total). Though there is a vast difference between the numbers, it does raise eyebrows that the guard is third on the team in blocked shots. Being able to bring a guard off the bench that can not only shoot it well from beyond the arc but can also be a defensive presence is a luxury.

With that said, do not expect DiVincenzo and Connaughton to come into the game and score 20 points along with 10 assists every night.

Instead, expect them to come in and provide energetic sparks with their offensive and defensive abilities. Whether it be steals, blocks, dunks, or shooting, both players are creating opportunities to help the Bucks be the best version they can be.

Next: The Bucks' chance at a potentially historic streak

Though both players are at different chapters in their careers, they both have the same goal in mind, which is helping in any way to bring a championship back to the Milwaukee Bucks.

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