Warriors Episode Night brings Donte DiVincenzo’s drive once again


SAN FRANCISCO – Donte DiVincenzo wasn’t new to winning. He led his high school team to two consecutive state titles before winning two national championships at Villanova. In his third year as a professional, he held the Larry O’Brien Cup as the NBA champion with the Milwaukee Bucks.

But some celebrations were sweeter than others.

DiVincenzo played in nine games for Villanova before a broken foot wiped out the rest of his real first year. He had to watch as his teammates swooped in to projectiles from a three-pointer batting a bell for Chris Jenkins dropping UNC in a national championship game. Two years later, it was DiVincenzo’s time on the bigger stage and he arrived, scoring 31 points against the Michigan Wolverines from Jordan Bowl in the title match.

He was named NCAA Final Four Most Distinguished, and rose to an all-time high during March Madness. And now he finds himself on an oddly similar schedule in the NBA.

Coming off the bench only as a starter, DiVincenzo started 24 games in his second season with the Bucks. Prior to his third year, he was assigned a Milwaukee shooting guard and enjoyed penetration as a full-fledged player. Once again, his season ended short as he showered his teammates with all the glory. An ankle dislocation in the third match of the qualifiers sidelined him until the end of the 2021 season and continued last season as well.

Does that give him extra motivation? Will there be an extra layer of inspiration Tuesday night to watch the new Warriors teammates celebrate winning championship rings at Chase Center ahead of the season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers?

Right.

“I mean absolutely,” Devincenzo said Monday. “I looked back in my college days and the same thing happened to me in college. My first championship I was a part of, I got hurt. I couldn’t play. That was just fuel for my fire to try to get again. After two years, we ended up being champions. once again.

“It’s no different at the NBA level. You can’t get a lot of chances. There are a lot of Hall of Fame players who haven’t won a ring. For me, being part of this championship team is obviously fuel for my fire just to add to this. the team.

“They already have the scheme. Really for me it’s just to help out with whatever needs help.”

The 25-year-old played just 42 games last season – 17 with the Bucks and 25 after being traded to the Sacramento Kings. He returned to the field at Christmas but exacerbated his ankle injury three games into his comeback. It’s been a long but short season for him.

Not being part of the playoffs was new to him either. The Bucks extended their season in each of his first three years there. Being a spectator from afar was painful.

At this point, he counts down the seconds until Steve Kerr calls his name to play in his first regular season game with the Warriors.

“I’ve been off the season for a long time, and as excited as I am for these guys to get their ring, I’m really excited to get on the field and play,” said DeVincenzo. “I’ve been away for a long time, and it’s been fast for them. I think there are two different kinds of feelings.

“I’m just so excited to get on the field, but so excited for my loved ones [Jonathan Kuminga]And the [James Wiseman] And the [Moses Moody] to get their rings.”

This past season, DiVincenzo entered free agency for the first time. The previous first round was supposed to be chosen for big pay. This was not the case.

With an ankle injury slowing him down to what he was last year, DiVincenzo was still around when he should have already been pounced on the open market. He is a proven winner, a versatile player and a top-tier athlete.

The Warriors seized the opportunity to bring him to San Francisco, and signed DiVincenzo to a two-year, $9.3 million contract. The second year comes with a player option, putting the future in his hands.

“First of all, I don’t think you’re joining an organization only for the short term,” Devincenzo said. “When you join an organization, you have long-term plans to be part of the family. To me, it’s clear that seeing Jordan and [Andrew Wiggins] Sign their extensions, that’s the motivation for me. But my focus is also not that.

“My focus is on getting to the best of my body, which it is, and helping this team win games. I didn’t go into playoffs last year and the year before I was injured. My goal is to be a playoff player on the winning team. That’s my focus now. The rest will take care of itself.”

Related: The Warriors are hungry for a fifth title as the 2022-23 season begins

Although he’s only been here a few months ago, DiVincenzo feels right at home – on and off the field. From the culture created by warriors, even as it was recently broken, DiVincenzo’s comfort level has far exceeded being the new guy. Systematically, this is the most hardwoods home since playing under Kerr’s good friend Jay Wright at Villanova.

What he has shown in pre-season is the final warrior who must set himself up for more money next summer. In the meantime, it’s all about winning. It begins at the second after the Golden State ring celebration ends, as it puts last season’s Warriors and this season’s squad on a quest for a bigger party a year from now.

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