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How Donte DiVincenzo Compares to His Fellow 2018 Draftees So Far

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It’s only been (almost) two seasons since the 2018 NBA Draft, but labels for the top-ten selections have already started to take shape. Stud, bust, etc.– they’re all on the table.

For the middle- and lower-tier prospects, we don’t tend to bestow said labels just yet. We can, however, examine their output two years in.

The Bucks selected Villanova sixth-man Donte DiVincenzo with 2018’s 17th overall pick. He was Milwaukee’s lone selection in this draft, and is among just two other current Bucks to have been drafted by the team (Giannis and DJ Wilson). With two seasons of substance under his belt, how does Donte stack up to the rest of his class?

Brief Career Summary

Before we jump into comparisons, it’s important to review Donte’s two very unique seasons. Donte’s rookie season was, putting it bluntly, mostly a bust. This was due to his bilateral heel bursitis ailment that forced him to miss the majority of last season’s second half. He appeared in four consecutive games in March of 2019, but otherwise hadn’t played regular minutes since December of 2018.

Rookie season averages (27 games): 4.9 PPG (40% FG, 27% 3PT, 75% FT), 2.4 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.5 SPG, 15.2 MPG

Donte appeared in each of Milwaukee’s first 14 games of that season, logging regular off-the-bench minutes he was — to an extent — used to seeing in college (Donte logged just south of 30 minutes per contest in his final year at Villanova). He appeared to be solidified into Bud’s rotation, but his aforementioned injury derailed that completely.

Sophomore Surge

After logging three DNP-CD’s and a two-minute stint against Cleveland to start the 2019-2020 season, Donte re-entered Bud’s rotation and has remained a vital asset to it all season long. He’s missed only six of Milwaukee’s 65 games played, and saw an uptick of nearly eight minutes per game from 15.2/game a year ago. Though stable health can be significantly attributed to this, Malcolm Brogdon’s departure opened another door for Donte to walk through. Now, a lot of people may still be upset that the Bucks opted to part ways with the former rookie of the year, but keeping him meant reducing future cap flexibility while limiting the potential growth of Donte and others.

The Bucks replaced Brogdon’s starting spot and 28.6 minutes per game with Wisconsin-native Wesley Matthews (24.7 MPG). Donte is right behind him at 23.1, outpacing fellow guards George Hill (21.2 MPG), Pat Connaughton (18.3 MPG), Kyle Korver (16.7 MPG) and Sterling Brown (14.8 MPG). Donte has also logged the most spot-starts of the team at 22 (Ersan Ilyasova is next in line with just eight). Whether it was for Matthews, Eric Bledsoe or Khris Middleton, Donte has been able to seamlessly step in for anyone.

An injury-riddled rookie campaign to sixth man of the year candidate? Most people look at George Hill as Milwaukee’s sixth man, but Donte is right there with him.

Sophomore season averages (59 games): 9.4 PPG (46% FG, 34% 3PT, 77% FT), 4.9 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.4 SPG, 23.1 MPG

Okay, synopsis over. With all of this information, where does Donte rank among the rest of his class? Let’s compare.

Tier 1– Upper Echelon

This first tier is rather simple. Donte has been great, but these players sit in 2018’s upper echelon so far.

(Note: These are draft selection numbers, not re-draft rankings)

  • Deandre Ayton (1st)
  • Marvin Bagley III (2nd)
  • Luka Doncic (3rd)
  • Jaren Jackson Jr. (4th)
  • Trae Young (5th)
  • Collin Sexton (8th)
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (11th)
  • Kevin Huerter (19th)
  • Devonte’ Graham (34th)

Notes from this tier:

  • All nine players are top-12 in minutes per game and have logged significantly more, starter-level minutes than Donte (20.6 MPG; ranked 18th among his fellow draftees).
    • Young, Doncic, Sexton, Ayton and Gilgeous-Alexander all log 30+ MPG
      • Highest: Young (32.8 MPG)
  • Bagley barely makes the cut due to injury woes, but his production and potential we’ve seen so far keeps him here.

Tier 2– Middle Echelon (Donte)

This larger tier is where Donte sits. Here we’ll make the case for why his production does or does not outrank these 2018 adversaries.

  • Wendell Carter Jr. (7th)
  • Kevin Knox (9th)
  • Mikal Bridges (10th)
  • Miles Bridges (12th)
  • Troy Brown (15th)
  • Donte DiVincenzo (17th)
  • Josh Okogie (20th)
  • Aaron Holiday (23rd)
  • Anfernee Simons (24th)
  • Landry Shamet (26th)
  • Jalen Brunson (33rd)
  • Mitchell Robinson (36th)
  • Bruce Brown (42nd)
  • De’Anthony Melton (46th)
  • Duncan Robinson (undrafted)
  • Kendrick Nunn (undrafted)

Tier 2– Ranked

  1. Kendrick Nunn (undrafted)
  2. Duncan Robinson (undrafted)
  3. Landry Shamet (26th)
  4. Mitchell Robinson (36th)
  5. Donte DiVincenzo (17th)
  6. Miles Bridges (12th)
  7. Jalen Brunson (33rd)
  8. Wendell Carter Jr. (7th)
  9. Josh Okogie (20th)
  10. Mikal Bridges (10th)
  11. Aaron Holiday (23rd)
  12. Troy Brown (15th)
  13. De’Anthony Melton (46th)
  14. Bruce Brown (42nd)
  15. Kevin Knox (9th)
  16. Anfernee Simons (24th)

Though they’re a tier below the upper echelon, all 16 of these players still have quality roles on their respective teams and won’t be going away any time soon.

Argument for the Players Ranked Ahead of Donte

The four players listed above Donte in this tier were all drafted (or not) behind him, but have all yielded significantly higher production so far. This, again, is due to elevated playing time, but all four are borderline tier-one players. Kendrick Nunn is technically a rookie, but he declared for the 2018 NBA Draft and went undrafted. He spent time with the G-League’s Santa Cruz Warriors that season, but didn’t reach the NBA landscape until this season. Both Nunn and Duncan Robinson have become two uncovered gems for the Miami Heat. Landry Shamet has been downright lethal from deep, and Mitchell Robinson is one of the best rim protectors in this draft so far.

Argument for the Players Ranked Behind Donte

This was tough. Some of you may look at this list and think Donte should be much lower. He is, however, in the upper portion of this tier for one big reason– that being his seamless integration into Milwaukee’s rotation and starting lineup. Yes, you can make the argument that his injury-riddled rookie campaign should place him lower in these rankings, but we saw quality production before his injury, and he hasn’t hit a setback — both health- and production-wise — since making a full recovery. As previously mentioned, he’s logged 22 spot-starts for three different starters this season– all on the NBA’s best team. Lastly, second-year production carries more weight than first-year production in these rankings.

Now, some of these players listed below Donte aren’t far behind– especially guys like Miles Bridges and Jalen Brunson. Bridges has emerged as a quality starter for the Charlotte Hornets and has notably raised his game from year one to year two. Jalen Brunson, Donte’s college teammate, is virtually a mirror of Donte so far. Both have majority-off-the-bench roles but have been asked to start when needed. Brunson’s role from year one to year two has decreased slightly, however, and his season-ending shoulder surgery in March places him 7th in this tier.

The remaining, non-top-ten picks in this tier are all quality role players, but we haven’t seen as crucial of production on a better team than Donte on the Bucks.

Moving on to two of the more disappointing spots, we have 7th overall pick Wendell Carter Jr. and 9th overall pick Kevin Knox. Both have produced, but at vastly different intervals and at different positions. Carter Jr. sits 8th based on production when on the floor, but sits 8th also based on his struggle to remain on the floor. He’s appeared in just one more game than Donte so far, but the timing is entirely different. Between both seasons, he’s played 44 and 43 games (all starts) respectively. He missed the second-half of last season and nearly two months this season. Carter Jr.’s production over two seasons has improved slightly (1.0 PPG, 2.4 RPG, ~5% FG) but missing nearly all of January and February this year may have set back any additional improvement. All this on top of being apart of a rebuilding debacle places Carter Jr. behind Donte.

Shifting gears to a completely divergent player, we have Kevin Knox. Knox was touted as a potential draft steal for the Knicks, but his MSG tenure so far has imploded completely from year one to year two. He went from being a near-everyday starter to a diminished off-the-bench guy. His scoring production was literally cut in half (6.4 PPG from 12.8 PPG) and his inefficient shooting declined even further (he ranks last among his 2018 peers in FG% of players who have appeared in 100 or more games).

Is there still time for Knox to resurface as a quality NBA starter and contributor? Absolutely. The Knicks are not and have not been in a position to win for several seasons. Knox’s shooting struggles can be attributed to growing pains on a big stage, but most of his fellow 2018 draftees — especially near his draft selection — have not struggled this much.

Tier 3– Lower Echelon

The final tier of the 2018 Draft is the “lower echelon”– players who are either just outside tier two or who have made little-to-no impact so far.

  • Mo Bamba (6th)
  • Jerome Robinson (13th)
  • Michael Porter Jr. (14th)
  • Zhaire Smith (16th)
  • Lonnie Walker IV (18th)
  • Grayson Allen (21st)
  • Chandler Hutchison (22nd)
  • Mo Wagner (25th)
  • Robert Williams (27th)
  • Jacob Evans (28th)
  • Dzanan Musa (29th)
  • Omari Spellman (30th)
  • Elie Okobo (31st)
  • Jevon Carter (32nd)
  • Melvin Frazier (35th)
  • Gary Trent (37th)
  • Khyri Thomas (38th)
  • Isaac Bonga (39th)
  • Rodions Kurucs (40th)
  • Jarred Vanderbilt (41st)
  • Justin Jackson (43rd)
  • Issuf Sanon (44th)
  • Hamidou Diallo (45th)
  • Svi Mykhailiuk (47th)
  • Keita Bates-Diop (48th)
  • Chimezie Metu (49th)
  • Alize Johnson (50th)
  • Tony Carr (51st)
  • Vince Edwards (52nd)
  • Devon Hall (53rd)
  • Shake Milton (54th)
  • Arnoldas Kulboka (55th)
  • Ray Spalding (56th)
  • Kevin Hervey (57th)
  • Thomas Welsh (58th)
  • George King (59th)
  • Kostas Antetokounmpo (60th; there’s still time!)

This tier may need a division (or two) on a true re-draft or overall rankings, but since this is specific to Donte DiVincenzo, this is where the rest stand. You can argue guys like Mo Bamba, Michael Porter Jr., Lonnie Walker IV and Shake Milton among others could soon be on their way to compete with Donte in tier two, but there’s not quite enough data yet to comfortably place them there.

So there you have it. In a 2018 re-draft, Donte probably moves up a few ticks. Nonetheless, he’s been a formidable piece to Mike Budenholzer’s Bucks.

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About Eric Peterson

CEO and Content Manager of TLSM. Twitter: @EricTLSM

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