The Trail Blazers’ offseason is upon us, and the 2018 NBA Draft will provide Portland with an opportunity to supplement its roster with a talented youngster. With only the No. 24 pick at their disposal on draft night, the Blazers will surely look to get lucky by finding an NBA-worthy prospect in the latter stages of the first round. Today we will be looking at the intriguing potential of Villanova sophomore guard Donte DiVicenzo.
- Height: 6’5’’
- Weight: 205
- Wingspan: 6’6’’
- Shoots: Right
- Position: Shooting Guard
- Age: 21
- Projected draft range: 21-30
- PPG: 13.4 I Per 40: 18.4
- RPG: 4.8 I Per 40: 6.5
- APG: 3.5 I Per 40: 4.8
- STL: 1.1 I Per 40: 1.4
- FG%: 48.1
- 3P%: 40.1
- FT%: 71.0
DiVicenzo is the ultimate Swiss Army Knife guard in the 2018 draft class. Under the direction of coach Jay Wright (one of the premier player developers in college basketball) the redshirt sophomore wing proved to be cable of fulfilling a multitude of his coaches wishes. From his elite shooting ability, to his premier athleticism, DiVicenzo has more than proven he can score at the next level. Typically seen as an overrated trait, DiVicenzo’s motor makes a real difference in games. His knack to be in the middle of every loose-ball battle or put-back opportunity cannot be overstated. Defensively, he lacks supreme measurements for a shooting guard. But his top-10 finish in steals per game in the Big East proves he gets the most out of his physical tools.
DiVicenzo doesn’t have any glaring deficiencies. This could be a product of two factors: he doesn’t have any, or they haven’t been exposed. More than likely, it is due to the latter. The Villanova guard can get sloppy with the ball when the tempo of the game picks up. He led the Wildcats with 2 turnovers per game in 2017-18. From the free throw line, his 71 percent mark isn’t where you want it to be. In fact, Jaylen Brown was the only guard to shoot less than 70 percent from the charity stripe in the NBA Playoffs (minimum of 10 attempts). DiVicenzo’s position in the NBA has raised some concerns, as he’s somewhere between both backcourt positions. He could entice teams as an oversized point guard, but his time as a facilitator was limited by the stellar play of Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth.
DiVicenzo spent most of this redshirt sophomore season coming off the bench for a stacked Villanova roster. That didn’t stop him from putting up big numbers. He scored in double figures in every game game early-December to mid-February. That run was capped off by a 30-point performance against Butler. In that game, only Brunson scored more than 10 points for the Wildcats. On the national stage, the wing opened eyes during Villanova’s championship run in March. His scrappy defense and fluid offensive game were on full display in the title game against Michigan. In a reserve role, DiVicenzo led the team in minutes, points, assists, and blocks.
The 2018 NBA Draft suffers from an unbalanced batch of players. All too often, a prospect’s worth it based solely on their talent on one side of the ball exclusively. Marvin Bagley III and Trae Young are offensive mystros, while Troy Brown Jr. and Zhaire Smith lean heavily on their defense. There are other examples of these extremes, but DiVicenzo isn’t one of them. With the right coaching staff, his skillset could translate to what Klay Thompson gives the Warriors: a 3-and-D guard who can also create his own shot when called upon. What’s scary is that Thompson holds the edge from beyond the arc, but athleticism and playmaking tilt in DiVicenzo’s favor.
It’s hard to look at any defensively gifted backcourt player and say they couldn’t fit with the Trail Blazers’ roster. DiVicenzo is already the guard Portland hopes Pat Connaughton will develop into. The two have similar builds, but the Villanova product is better in every facet of the game. Coming off the bench wouldn’t be unfamiliar territory for DiVicenzo, and he has proven he can carry the load offensively when the starters are on the bench. That is what Portland was missing most from last season. If Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum had off nights, the Blazers were doomed. DiVicenzo might just be the solution to that problem. He would add an exciting flavor to a team that has seemed extremely top heavy in recent years.
Do you want to see DiVicenzo in a Trail Blazers jersey next season? What prospect would you like to see us highlight next? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.