Milwaukee Bucks: Making sense of the current logjam at the wing position

Apr 17, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 17, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Kyle Korver, Donte DIVincenzo, Pat Connaughton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Philadelphia 76ers: Tobias Harris
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – FEBRUARY 06: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Established veterans have the upper hand by default for the Milwaukee Bucks

This means that even with DiVincenzo healthy, a starting slot for him on the Bucks isn’t guaranteed given recent history.

To be sure, Donte would have a year of starting experience working in his favor. When he went down with a season-ending injury, the Bucks sorely missed his near-elite defensive energy against the likes of James Harden and Devin Booker. DiVincenzo, an athletic and hyper-defensive combo guard, is hardly in the same stratosphere as Allen offensively. He struggled with finishing at the rim and stroking the three-ball consistently all season long.

But what he does bring to the table is near-elite defense and rebounding.

Per, DiVincenzo’s 109.1 defensive rating is eighth in the league among starting guards with at least 60 games played. In the three playoff games he played versus the Miami Heat, he held opposing scorers to 30.8 percent field goal efficiency when he was the closest defender. Cleaning the Glass also has him in the 85th percentile among players at his position in offensive rebounding, with Donte pulling down 4.5 percent of his team’s misses this year.

On the other hand, head coach Mike Budenholzer has shown he has always had a pronounced liking for Pat Connaughton and what he brings to the court. Though this was somewhat unfounded at times, the decision clearly paid dividends in the Bucks’ title run. Connaughton, a swiss army knife wing who can do it all, looked like a knockdown shooter in the NBA Finals, where he shot 44.1 percent from distance on 5.7 attempts a night.

It remains to be seen if he can carry the momentum from this performance over to more consistent regular season showings. But if he does, he would have his own argument for the Bucks’ starting five, no question.

For obvious reasons, Rodney Hood’s status and health will largely determine how often he plays for the Bucks this year. His floor is, for the most part, muddled after his recent struggles with injury. But his ceiling is unquestioned: a 6-foot-8 small forward who can defend, stroke the basketball from deep, and occasionally create his own shot is gold at the price he’s paid. He’s a 36.7 percent 3-point shooter for his career.

To varying extents, DiVincenzo and Hood are both no strangers to season-ending injuries thus far in their respective careers. But at their peak, they’ve proven themselves to be excellent, gritty players who can contribute to winning basketball on both ends of the floor, particularly at the wing position.