I’ll be honest, I’m tired of the debates about Donte DiVincenzo. The fourth-year guard for the Milwaukee Bucks has struggled mightily since returning from ankle surgery (as well as a stint in health and safety protocols) which has caused people to go a little nuts.
There are two sides. On one side, there’s the “DiVincenzo is not playing well, brings nothing to the team” side. On the other, we have the “he’s young, he’s recovering, he’s a valuable piece to the team” side.
I’d say I’m more of the latter than the former. I see the value that DiVincenzo has but it’s tough to defend when he’s shot around six percent on 2-pointers this season. I’m not concerned about his defense or rebounding, those have been solid since his return and I’ve liked what I’ve seen there.
It’s the offense, particularly the scoring, that will catch everyone’s eye and that’s where the problem has been.
Going through every Donte DiVincenzo shot attempt inside the arc for the Milwaukee Bucks this season
It’s always going to be tough for a player like DiVincenzo to get full credit from fans when he’s not shooting over 40 percent from 3 or, you know, making easy layups.
You saw the way fans view Pat Connaughton for a long time when he wasn’t a great shooter like he’s become. Players whose primary value is their defense but aren’t great offensive players tend to get more slander from fans because they want to see points because points are the most important thing in a game.
So when you see that DiVincenzo is only averaging a little over five points per game and then notice that he’s made one 2-point attempt this season, it’s hard to see the value that he’s bringing.
So let’s go through all 16 of his 2-point attempts and see what’s going on and why he has been struggling.
Of those 16 attempts, only one has come outside of less than eight feet from the basket. It was a long pull-up 2 against the Orlando Magic when the Bucks were up 13 points with over four minutes to go in the game.
It was a nice little action that saw Bobby Portis screen off-ball and then re-screen to get DiVincenzo that look. You could maybe argue he could have passed it to Jrue Holiday but I’m fine with him taking the shot.
I wanted to focus on those attempts around the rim because they’ve been an issue for the 24-year-old the last couple of seasons. Also, if you’re evaluating his jumper it’s either going to be the mechanics or shooting luck.
Anyway, I looked at his first two layup attempts in his return game on Christmas Day. It’s hard to criticize him too much since it was his first game back but you’d like to see him finish at least one of those (primarily the second one).
Three of his 12 misses came on this one play. He drives on Tim Frazier and it’s a relatively tough finish, miss. He gets the tip, miss. Another tip, miss. You like the initial aggressiveness from DiVincenzo to attack the smaller defender and potentially get a call. He’s in a great position on the second tip though, but can’t finish it.
He had two more misses on tip-ins from either his own shot or a teammate, which is frustrating to see him be in position and get there, but not finish the play. You’d almost wonder if he’s better off grabbing the rebound and passing it out but he’s right around the basket, those are the looks you want.
You’d be tempted to attribute this to a lack of burst with his ankle injury, but he shows plenty of burst on this clip. Even after the hesitation dribble, he still blows by Gary Harris to get to the rim but it’s a bad miss.
That’s one thing that’s stood out is he still has the burst to get by a defender or get separation, but he’s either missing badly or it’s getting blocked. I admire the confidence he has going at a bigger defender like Gordon Hayward or Kevon Looney, but he’s not a good enough finisher even when healthy to be taking a shot like that. His lone make was a great bit of ball-handling and going at a weak interior defender like Nemanja Bjelica, plus the finish is perfect.
It feels like a lack of touch around the basket is the issue or that he’s panicking once he gets around the basket, like here against the Atlanta Hawks. He gets separation from the bigger defender but when he’s trying to avoid the help defender, he just launches the ball high off the glass.
But there are moments where I like what he’s doing, I like the process and he is right there but it doesn’t go down. Here against the Memphis Grizzlies, he does a good job avoiding DeAnthony Melton’s block attempt with a nifty little move, but it doesn’t go down.
You have to wonder if these are plays that are getting in his head and result in the wild misses. He gets to the spot but panics or overthinks the finish too much. I’m not a sports psychologist by any means, but it’s one of the only things I can come up with when he’s getting those looks and it’s close to going down but doesn’t fall.
I don’t think we can put too much on the ankle injury, especially with how poor his finishing was last season when he was healthy, but I’m sure it doesn’t help the situation.
The Bucks will be scouring the trade market as we quickly approach the deadline. Will DiVincenzo be a name on his way out, especially if his finishing doesn’t improve?