Thriving off the bench for the Milwaukee Bucks, second year wing Donte DiVincenzo is already primed to be a postseason game-changer.
Coming into the 2019-20 campaign, there was no shortage of conversation about the players the Milwaukee Bucks had at their disposal last year but wouldn’t be able to call upon over the course of this season.
Of course, almost four months later, the Bucks are winning at a historic pace and looking truly formidable.
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With that considered, much of the focus should now be shifting to considering how this Bucks squad will be different to the one that fell short against the Raptors last season.
It’s at the position previously held down by Malcolm Brogdon where things are most interesting, though, as not only has Wesley Matthews joined the fold, but Donte DiVincenzo has also overcome rookie injuries to emerge as a key contributor this year.
The dynamic between that duo is particularly fascinating as Matthews has been the Bucks’ fifth starter whenever he’s been healthy this season, and his presence on the floor has helped Milwaukee to dominate close to all-comers to date.
Between injuries to Matthews and Eric Bledsoe, DiVincenzo has had no shortage of opportunities to step in as a starter either, though. DiVincenzo has made major strides, regardless of role, this season, but 20 of his 42 appearances to date have come as a member of the starting unit.
In looking ahead to the postseason, what’s most intriguing about DiVincenzo may well be related to the inconsistencies that Matthews has shown, particularly on the offensive end over the last couple of months.
The Bucks aren’t in a position at present where even a roaring burst of form from DiVincenzo would force them into a lineup change, as quite simply they’re winning at an absurd rate.
Just because the Bucks don’t need to upset the apple cart right now, doesn’t mean that there’s not value to knowing a potential upgrade could be lying in the wings as a luxury option, if needed.
Last season, Sterling Brown entered the postseason starting at shooting guard as Malcolm Brogdon recovered from injury. When Game 1 of the second round came around, Brown still hung on to that spot, at least until the Bucks found themselves on the wrong end of an opening loss to the Celtics, after which Nikola Mirotic stepped in.
Having swept the Pistons in round one, the Bucks didn’t change until adversity struck against Boston, and then it was only after the series was tied at 2-2 with Toronto that a pivot back to what consensus would have suggested was their strongest starting five with Brogdon occurred. Those options were held back as adjustments, in a move that worked perfectly, right until it didn’t.
There’s an excellent chance that DiVincenzo could be a similar ace in the hole for Budenholzer this year, albeit one where the level of preparedness will be much higher for both Plan A and Plan B, in the form of Matthews and Donte.
DiVincenzo’s style of play, and particularly his boundless energy, offers a very different look to Matthews at this point in his career. Don’t be surprised if Budenholzer ends up turning to that youthful exuberance as an adjustment if his team start to feel a little bit more heat from opponents in the postseason.