Dating all the way back to this last offseason, the starting shooting guard conundrum has been a hot topic of discussion for the Milwaukee Bucks.
After failing to acquire Bogdan Bogdanovic through a sign-and-trade for an array of reasons, Donte DiVincenzo took up the position for the Bucks. Carrying on the unfortunate tradition from his first two seasons with the team, the guard has failed to maintain any sense of consistency with his production.
Lately, the only thing consistent about his game has been how subpar he has been at contributing offensively. DiVincenzo has largely been a nonfactor in his last four appearances by averaging just 4.3 points per game on a horrific 26.9 percent shooting from the floor and 15.4 percent from behind the arc.
With his struggles reach all-time levels, many have been campaigning for backup guard Bryn Forbes to take DiVincenzo’s place in the lineup, particularly after his excellence as of late.
In his last four contests, the sharpshooter has been on a tear by averaging 16.8 points on 58.1 percent shooting from the floor, including a phenomenal 56 percent from deep. One game during this stretch included a career-high 30 points from Forbes in Milwaukee’s recent 143-136 loss to the Houston Rockets.
With DiVincenzo struggling mightily and Forbes heating up as the Bucks have just eight regular season games left to play, swapping the two in the lineup is something worth considering.
Should the Milwaukee Bucks start Bryn Forbes over Donte DiVincenzo?
As evidenced by his high-energy play lately, the move would make sense for Milwaukee from an offensive standpoint.
Forbes is currently knocking down a career-high 44.3 percent of his shots from long range this season, providing the Bucks with some desirable floor spacing. That shooting has made him a reliable threat when paired next to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has developed quite the chemistry with Forbes since the team brought him aboard this last offseason.
Per NBA.com/stats, Antetokounmpo has racked up 51 assists courtesy of Forbes off of 190 passes this season, with the guard shooting 36-of-84 (42.9 percent) from deep off of those passes. Although DiVincenzo is also having a career year shooting the ball, Antetokounmpo has managed to rack up just 52 assists off of 391 passes. Despite receiving over 200 more passes thrown his way, DiVincenzo has shot just 31-of-88 (35.2 percent) from distance off those passes.
While that percentage is not awful, a player with the sharpshooting of Forbes’caliber is solely there to knock down shots and could up his production significantly if we were getting more looks from Antetokounmpo. Floor spacing has been a critical factor in the postseason for Milwaukee and Forbes provides the team with a reliable perimeter shooter that they have longed for amidst his career year shooting the basketball.
Furthermore, while this is DiVincenzo’s first year as a full-time starter, Forbes has more experience in that area. Earning the starting nod in 155 of his 261 games during his first four seasons with the San Antonio Spurs before joining the Bucks, the guard is more than capable of taking on that bigger role.
Where things favor more towards DiVincenzo is on the defensive side of the ball. The 24-year-old has shown flashes of potential as an ascending defender in the league and that presence will be critical for the Bucks. Meanwhile, Forbes is rightfully characterized as a liability on that side of the ball as playing defense has always been the weakest part of his game.
If the Bucks eventually have to face a team like the Brooklyn Nets in the postseason, seeing Forbes matchup against Kyrie Irving or James Harden would be a massive disadvantage for them. Although slowing down those two is a tall task for any defender, DiVincenzo provides more optimism for the Bucks in that regard than Forbes ever could.
The biggest factor is what the team values more here, that being DiVincenzo’s defense or Forbes’ offense. Whichever it is, any lineup change at this point in the season would be a massive surprise. With just eight games left until the postseason, it seems safe to say that head coach Mike Budenholzer will not make any changes in his starting five, particularly one to this degree.
What DiVincenzo needs right now is confidence, and demoting him to the second unit might diminish any that he has left after this abysmal stretch of games. Still, if these struggles carry over into the playoffs without any resolution, starting Forbes certainly remains an option for Budenholzer to keep in his back pocket.