Kerr points out DiVincenzo’s versatile value to the Warriors

Donte DiVincenzo's first season with the Warriorslike the rest of the team, got off to a shaky start before soon finding himself benched with a left hamstring injury — a season after missing the first 34 games from surgery on his left ankle.

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

As the season has gone, 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 in 17.6 minutes per game, shooting 36 percent from the field and 35.1 percentage on 3-point attempts. December then began a streak of three straight months shooting better than 40 percent from deep.

With his legs under him and Steve Kerr's system seemingly a perfect fit, DiVincenzo averaged 9.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists over 13 games (seven starts) in December, and is now playing 28.6 minutes per night and shot 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 from beyond the arc over 13 games (four starts) in 30.3 minutes per match.

December and January set him up for perhaps the best month of his career. In February, DiVincenzo averaged 13.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 12 games (five starts) and 28.3 minutes per game. DiVincenzo in February had a 53.8 shooting percentage and knocked down 50 percent of his 80 3-point attempts, which helped give him a 73.3 true shooting percentage.

As March comes to a close, the month hasn't been as kind to DiVincenzo. In 28 minutes per game, he is averaging 8.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists, shooting 35.7 percent from the floor and 30.5 percent from 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 120-109 comeback win over the New Orleans Pelicans , DiVincenzo immediately showed the kind of impact he can make on a game by jumping into the passing lane for a steal and a layup in the opening possession. A little over two minutes later, he splashed in a three, giving him more points than the previous two games combined.

“Donte has been great,” Kerr told reporters Thursday after the Warriors' practice. “He started the season playing 20 minutes a night. And then with the injuries he's started playing 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 how versatile he is. Donte, I think, is one of those guys that 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 thought that he's a complete basketball player means you can put him in any group. , and that's a really valuable quality.”

Wiggins has missed the Warriors' last 20 games due to a family issue. DiVincenzo has started in his place, averaging 9.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.2 steals, often guarding the opposition's leading scorer and making 35.9 percent of his threes. When Wiggins missed 15 straight games from December 5th to January 4th, 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, while 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 big pieces Golden State has had without Steph Curry.

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

Put him next to 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 got off to a good start in Milwaukee and then the injuries the last few years set him back. This has been a tremendously 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 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 numbers, and with a player option for the second year of his deal, he 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 is averaging 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, signing a two-year, $12.3 million contract with the Toronto Raptors. Gary Payton II got an offer he couldn't refuse, as much as 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.

Just as he did last offseason with GP2, Kerr will push for the front office to find a way to keep DiVincenzo. However, that is for another time. In the meantime, he'll continue to rely on DiVincenzo at a number of positions and a handful of different responsibilities, highlighting his invaluable versatility.

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