Donte DiVincenzo was not always seen as a first-round prospect, but he’s shooting up the draft boards and could be available when the Brooklyn Nets pick.
The Brooklyn Nets are smack dab in the middle of a rebuild and every draft pick matters. With the 29th pick in this month’s draft, it’s imperative they find a diamond in the rough. Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo could be exactly what they’re looking for.
DiVincenzo was a bench player for a majority of his career at Villanova, but that should not diminish what he did on the court. The Wildcats were chock full of NBA talent during DiVincenzo’s time in Philadelphia including current NBA prospects like Mikal Bridges, Jalen Brunson, and Omari Spellman, as well as current NBA player Josh Hart. It’s clear that DiVincenzo’s role as a sixth man had little to do with his talent level, and much more to do with the loaded Villanova teams he played on.
The first time much of America got to watch DiVincenzo showcase his diverse skill set was during the NCAA tournament—more specifically in San Antonio for the Final Four and NCAA Title Game. The Wilmington, Delaware native electrified the crowds with big shots and key defensive plays on his way to the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
DiVincenzo exhibited all of his strengths and virtually none of his weaknesses in this game. He scored in a variety of ways including five three-pointers—some from way downtown. He made a couple of ridiculous defensive plays that demonstrated his tremendous athletic ability. It was a coming out party for the sophomore.
But at the time, the thought was that DiVincenzo would return for his junior season and take over as Jay Wright’s go-to guy. Instead, the Big Ragu decided to test out the waters of the NBA Draft. With the current rules, it makes sense for guys to declare—without signing an agent—and feel things out.
But DiVincenzo’s stock continues to rise and the question is no longer if he will get drafted in the first round, but when he will get drafted in the first round. It’s not clear whether or not he will be available when the Nets draft at 29. He’s even projected as high as 16 to the Phoenix Suns by some mock drafts. If DiVincenzo is available at 29, it would behoove Brooklyn to pass on this dynamic player.
There are a lot of ways to describe DiVincenzo’s game—creative, athletic, energetic, cerebral. The list goes on, but versatile is the word that describes DiVincenzo best. At 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, he could fit into the combo guard role that is becoming increasingly important in today’s NBA. When you add in the fact that he has a flair for coming off the bench, he looks like he could develop into a key rotational player.
Another intriguing aspect to DiVincenzo’s versatility is his ability and willingness to fill a role. He excelled off the bench for a championship winning team and there’s no doubt that this mentality will impress NBA front offices.
The next thing that literally jumps out at you is his athletic ability. DiVincenzo is an excellent athlete with elite leaping ability. He really began to shoot up the mock drafts following his eye-opening combine performance. He led everyone in the combine in standing vertical leap and max vertical leap. He can provide energy and a good motor off the bench at the next level.
Athletic ability and versatility are great, but it’s next to impossible to survive at the NBA level if you can’t score. Good news for DiVincenzo is that he’s a very creative scorer that can put the ball in the bucket in a variety of ways. He can finish at the rim with either hand. And he can shoot the three-pointer—he shot 40 percent from deep during the 2017-18 season.
Despite having the ability to knock down shots from the outside, DiVincenzo can be a streaky shooter at times. Although he put on an offensive display in some games at Villanova, he was never asked to carry the load on offense. He’ll never be asked to carry an offense in the NBA, but he could become a top option on a second unit. Whether or not he can lead that unit could be weighing on the minds of some general managers come draft day.
Another possible red flag regarding DiVincenzo is the fact that he could be a bit undersized for the two at the next level. He isn’t the greatest defender and he could be slightly overmatched defensively against shooting guards. He can also be a bit careless with the basketball. Can he play point guard if he turns out to be turnover prone? Extended minutes at the lead guard may leave him exposed.
That being said, he’s a max effort player who could develop into a capable defender and in the right system, he could develop into a dangerous combo guard off the bench.
The last “weakness” worth mentioning may not even be a weakness, yet more of a sign of the way teams view prospects. DiVincenzo is 21-years-old which oddly enough is on the older side. The top of the draft will be dominated by 18, 19, and 20-year-olds. The fear is that at 21-years-old, DiVincenzo may be closer to his ceiling than a younger player. It’s almost ridiculous to think of things that way, but it’s definitely worth mentioning.
Fit In Brooklyn
With his stock rising and Brooklyn’s need to amass as much talent as possible during this rebuild, DiVincenzo looks to be a natural fit with the Nets. It’s looking more unlikely by the minute that he drops to 29, but if he does, Brooklyn would be wise to snatch him up.
There is somewhat of a logjam at guard with Jeremy Lin, D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, among others on Brooklyn. But the Nets are in the position to draft the best player available and ask questions about lineups later. They can’t pass up on a guy with DiVincenzo’s upside simply because they feel like they have a lot of guards on the roster with upside. Look to upgrade anywhere you can at this point in the rebuild.
In terms of DiVincenzo’s makeup, he looks like he would be a tremendous fit in Brooklyn. He’s coming from a winning culture at Villanova, can adapt to different roles, and he’s certainly not afraid of the big stage.
He’s got an edge to him that could be invaluable to a Brooklyn team that is constantly playing little brother to the crosstown rival New York Knicks. He could go a long way towards helping the Nets develop their own unique identity.
Simply put, if DiVincenzo is available when Brooklyn is on the clock, they need to snap him up before the other teams in the draft realize they passed on him.