Kerr pinpoints DiVincenzo's versatile value to Warriors

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Donte DiVincenzo's first season with the Warriors, like the rest of the team, started unstable before he soon found himself stuck to the bench nursing a left hamstring injury -- one season after he missed the first 34 games from surgery to his left ankle.

Over the first three games of the season, DiVincenzo was a combined minus-19 in plus/minus. Surprise, surprise -- the smallest of a small sample from a player on a new team who then dealt with an early-season injury that held him out for eight straight games doesn't even tell a chapter of the whole story.

As the season has gone on, DiVincenzo has gotten better and better. Over 11 games in November (he returned from injury on Nov. 11), DiVincenzo averaged 5.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists over 17.6 minutes per game, shooting 36 percent from the field and 35.1 percent on 3-point attempts. December then started a string of three straight months shooting better than 40 percent from deep. 

With his legs under him and Steve Kerr's system being a seemingly perfect fit, DiVincenzo averaged 9.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists over 13 games (seven starts) in December, now playing 28.6 minutes a night and shooting 40.6 percent overall and 40 percent on threes. Those numbers in January jumped to 10.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists, shooting 42.9 percent and making 40.8 percent of his shots beyond the arc over 13 games (four starts) in 30.3 minutes per game. 

December and January set him up for perhaps the best month of his career. February saw DiVincenzo 13.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists while playing 12 games (five starts) and averaging 28.3 minutes a game. DiVincenzo in February had a shooting percentage of 53.8 and drained 50 percent of his 80 3-point attempts, helping give him a 73.3 true shooting percentage. 

As March wraps up, the month hasn't been as kind to DiVincenzo. On 28 minutes per game, he's averaging 8.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists, shooting 35.7 percent from the floor and 30.5 percent behind the 3-point line. Recently against the Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves, he scored two points on a total of three shots. 

But Tuesday night in the Warriors' big-time 120-109 comeback win over the New Orleans Pelicans, DiVincenzo immediately showed the kind of impact he can make on a game by jumping in the passing lane for a steal and a layup in the opening possession. A little over two minutes later, he splashed a three, giving him more points than the previous two games combined. 

"Donte has been fantastic," Kerr said Thursday to reporters after Warriors practice. "He started out the season playing 20 minutes a night. And then with the injuries, he's started to play more. And then the absence of [Andrew Wiggins] -- putting him in the starting lineup, putting him on the best offensive player at the beginning of games -- he just shows you how versatile he is. Donte I think is one of those guys who helps you in so many different ways that you can plug him into any lineup. To me, that is his true value.

"He does a lot of things well, and you can focus on any one of them, whether it's his shooting or it's his passing or it's his defense. Just the idea that he's a total complete basketball player means you can put him with any group, and that's a really valuable trait."

Wiggins has missed the Warriors' last 20 games to a family matter. DiVincenzo has started in his place, averaging 9.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.2 steals, oftentimes guarding the opponent's best scorer and making 35.9 percent of his threes. When Wiggins missed 15 straight games from Dec. 5 through Jan. 4, DiVincenzo played in 13 of those games and started nine. In Wiggins' absence earlier this season, DiVincenzo put up 10.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.8 steals per game, also making 41.1 percent of his 3-point attempts. 

The 26-year-old has stepped up with Wiggins out, an All-Star a season ago and the Warriors' second-best player in last year's NBA Finals. The same can be said for both large chunks Golden State has had without Steph Curry. 

Between an array of obstacles, Kerr has used 23 different starting lineups this season. DiVincenzo has been a part of 11. Including Andre Iguodala, the Warriors have seven players in the positive of on-off. DiVincenzo is part of that group. He ranks top five on the Warriors in total points, rebounds and assists, as well as leading the team in steals with 86. 

Put him alongside guards or big men, and good things will happen. DiVincenzo has a positive Net Rating with seven different two-man combinations. Those players are Iguodala, Curry, Anthony Lamb, Draymond Green, Jonathan Kuminga, Jordan Poole and Patrick Baldwin Jr. 

Kerr has made his respect for DiVincenzo loud and clear since he first joined the team last offseason. The coach also understands the likely reality of DiVincenzo's future.

"He almost went to Detroit, I think, and then he decided to sign here," Kerr said. "And the whole idea was to rebuild his own place in the league. He had a great start in Milwaukee and then the injuries the last couple of years set him back. This has been a wildly successful year for Donte, re-establishing his place in the league, re-establishing his value.

"Obviously we hope we can keep him. We desperately want to keep him. I always want our players to be in the best position possible going forward. I'm very happy for Donte that he's put himself in a good spot."

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DiVincenzo signed a two-year, $9.3 million contract with the Warriors last summer. He has far exceeded those figures, and with a player option for the second year of his deal, has earned the right to test the market in the coming months. Tuesday night gave him a new career high of 67 games played in a season, setting career bests in assists per game (3.3), steals per game (1.3) and 3-point percentage (39.6 percent).

In 32 starts, DiVincenzo has averaged 10.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists on 40.4-percent shooting and 37.8-percent 3-point shooting. In 35 games off the bench, he has averaged 8.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists on 44.8-percent shooting and 41.8-percent 3-point shooting.

After winning a fourth championship in six seasons, the Warriors lost a handful of key veterans to free agency. Otto Porter Jr. proved his worth again and signed a two-year, $12.3 million contract with the Toronto Raptors. Gary Payton II was given an offer he couldn't refuse, no matter how much he wanted to stay in The Bay, putting pen to paper on a three-year contract worth over $26 million from the Portland Trail Blazers. 

Like he did last offseason with GP2, Kerr will push for the front office to find a way to keep DiVincenzo. That's for a different time, though. In the meantime, he'll continue trusting DiVincenzo at an array of positions and a handful of different responsibilities, shining a light on his invaluable versatility. 

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