Donte DiVincenzo must take a bigger role next season

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Next season will be Donte DiVincenzo’s third with the Milwaukee Bucks. Traditionally this is the time when players reveal their basketball identity.

In the NBA, a player’s third season is when he often takes a leap in production and gives the fans an idea of what kind of pro he will ultimately be. It was Allen Iverson’s third season when he led the NBA in scoring for the first time. LeBron James finally dragged the Cleveland Cavaliers into the playoffs in his third campaign. In Dwyane Wade’s third season, he showed us he was the kind of player who could take a team to the promised land and win Finals MVP along the way. While Donte DiVincenzo doesn’t possess the potential of those three superstars, next season will be that very telling third campaign for him. His development as a player will be crucial to the success or failure of the Milwaukee Bucks.

DiVincenzo is in a unique situation in that he’s playing for a franchise with very high expectations. A lot of first-round draft picks are on teams that struggle to make the playoffs. The Milwaukee Bucks have had the NBA’s best regular season record each of the last two years. However, after hold a 2-0 lead against the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals, the Bucks collapsed and lost four straight games.

This year, they lost to the Miami Heat in the Conference semi-finals in five games. Part of the criticism levied at the Bucks by observers is that they’re too easy to stop offensively once reigning two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is slowed down. That’s one of the reasons added production for role players like DiVincenzo will be critical if the Bucks are going to get over the hump next year.

In the series against the Heat, Donte showed he can respond to a subpar outing with a solid bounce-back performance. After going for one point in game 1 and zero points in game 2, he put up double digits in each of the next three contests. That included a seventeen-point outburst in game 5 as the Bucks fought for their playoff lives. With the NBA community wondering how much fight this team could muster after losing Antetokounmpo to injury, DiVincenzo and the Bucks did just that; they fought valiantly for their playoff lives.

Any time a team fails to live up to expectations, there will inevitably be scapegoats. Fair or unfair, one of the players getting a ton of the blame for Milwaukee’s postseason shortcomings is Eric Bledsoe. In the series closeout game against Miami, the Bucks starting point guard managed to score just 9 points. Fans across the internet as well as commentators on TV had called for Milwaukee to move on from Bledsoe. If that happens, DiVincenzo will be asked to take on an even bigger role next season, as a veteran guard whose already familiar with the offense.

One of the ways Donte has shown he can contribute is as an outside shooter who’s capable of stretching the floor. With their best player being one who’s greatest offensive strength is driving to the basket, outside shooting is very important to the Milwaukee Bucks. As a rookie, DiVincenzo shot just 26.5 percent from 3-point land.

However, he made a huge improvement in his second season, improving that percentage to 33.6 percent. Generally, 40 percent is seen as the benchmark of an elite 3-point shooter. At the rate he’s currently on, DiVincenzo is on pace to hit that mark next season. Coach Mike Budenholzer showed confidence in him when he gave him the starting nod in Game 5 against the Heat. That could become a regular occurrence next season.

Having almost doubled his scoring average from his rookie season to his last year and improving his 3-point percentage, Donte DiVincenzo has proven he’s a player on the rise. Although this year’s postseason results were disappointing, there’s no doubt expectations are still high in Milwaukee. Whether there are roster changes or not this offseason, all signs point to DiVincenzo playing a bigger role in the Bucks’ upcoming campaign. If history is any indicator, he’ll be up for the challenge.

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