Milwaukee Bucks: Donte DiVincenzo improving around the rim

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 14: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images).
MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 14: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images). /

He’s been improving in many ways, but one area where Donte DiVincenzo has really gotten better in recent weeks for the Milwaukee Bucks is on his shots at the rim.

Donte DiVincenzo has been a pleasant surprise for the Milwaukee Bucks so far this season.

With Malcolm Brogdon‘s departure over the summer, a lot of concern surrounded the position he was vacating. Fortunately, Wesley Matthews and DiVincenzo have done their part in not just carrying the load for that spot on the roster, but making it their own.

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Though he’s gotten better in many significant ways as the season has gone on, the one area where the Big Ragu arguably improved the most has been on his shots around the rim. In fact, DiVincenzo has made improvements on these shots in every month he’s played in so far.

Through his first month of the season (November), the second year guard found it difficult to finish at the rim whenever he drove to the basket. He attempted 51 shots within five feet of the basket that month, but shot just 54.9 percent on those attempts.

The following month, however, he saw his percentage on shots within five feet of the basket increase significantly to 63.4 percent on over 41 attempts. In January, his total attempts within five feet declined a bit further (37 total), but he made a season best 67.6 percent of those shots.

DiVincenzo has improved his percentages near the rim in a few different ways. One way he’s become more efficient inside is that he’s begun to cut back on the number of driving shots he’s taken. In November, he attempted 16 driving shots, but made just nine of them. In December, he attempted 22 shots on drives, but made 11. In January he attempted just 14 shots on drives, making six.

Instead of taking these kinds of shots, he’s relied a bit more on cuts to get his baskets at the rim. He’s basically maintained the number of shot attempts that he taken on cuts, which he’s much more efficient on, while reducing his number of attempts on drives. That’s helped him improve his efficiency.

Beyond the improved shot selection, though, DiVincenzo has also made some strides on how he finishes and draws contact at the basket. He’s seen his average free throw attempts per game tick up ever so slightly from 1.0 in November, to 1.3 in February over similar minutes per game in those months. He’s also added a variety of shots to his repertoire, such as a reverse lay-up, to help him to avoid contact or finish through it. This is making it harder for defenders to anticipate how he’ll choose to shoot it at the rim.

There’s no doubt that DiVincenzo can get better at the basket too. If he can get stronger over time, he should find finishing through contact much easier than he has so far.

It’s also crucial for him to continue to develop ways to make shots in the lane that aren’t as dependent on sheer athleticism. Perhaps he could take a page out of Khris Middleton’s playbook, as Middleton has developed a floater and found other ways to score which don’t rely on quickness or brute strength to execute.

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DiVincenzo has been a major contributor to this team so far. It will be interesting to see how he continues to improve his game in the weeks and months ahead.