Why Donte DiVincenzo confident he'll thrive in Warriors' celebrated culture


DiVincenzo confident he'll be latest to thrive with Warriors originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO - How much trust do the Warriors have in their internal culture? Enough to believe it could lead Nick Young to the light.

That experiment reminded the franchise that its celebrated vibe is not foolproof.

It does, however, have a high success rate, with Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. being recent success stories.

Now comes Donte DiVincenzo. It's not that he needs an attitude adjustment, or daily examples of professionalism, or the diligence required to become a champion. He was a member of the 2021 Milwaukee Bucks, who won the NBA Finals.

The 6-foot-4, 203-pound guard simply needs a setting that allows him to maximize his gifts.

To hear DiVincenzo tell it, the team already has completed the first phase of its task, wiping away the stain of his last NBA stop; he was traded from Milwaukee to Sacramento on Feb. 10, after which the Kings went 9-16.

"I'm having a lot of fun coming to work every day," DiVincenzo said Saturday, after Day 1 of training camp at Chase Center.

The Warriors consider DiVincenzo, 25, a winning player who merely needs to be in a positive environment. The next phase is to discover if he can maximize his gifts, get back to making an impact on offense and defense.

"Exactly what we've seen from him early in his career," coach Steve Kerr said, when asked how DiVincenzo can earn minutes off the bench. "Good shooting, good 3-point shooting, playmaking, a kind of secondary ball-handler playmaking in the pick-and-roll. Tough defense. He's a really tough guy, not afraid to stick his nose in the play defensively, take a charge, box out.

"He just needs to be himself. There's a reason we signed him. We really like him as a player, and we think he's a great fit."

With the vast majority of the backcourt minutes divided among Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole - and with second-year guard Moses Moody in the mix -- DiVincenzo will have to scrap his way onto the court. His college pedigree is one reason the Warriors believe he will.

DiVincenzo spent three seasons, mostly as a Sixth Man, at powerhouse Villanova under coach Jay Wright. He was named the Big East Sixth Man of the Year in 2018 and, moreover, followed that up by being voted the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Tournament won by the Wildcats.

"Villanova guys are generally really advanced," Kerr said. "Jay Wright did an amazing job with that program over the years ... most of the guys spent at least a couple years in college, so the development part has already happened. That's the advantage.

"And then, of course, with Donte, he has played on a championship with Milwaukee. He has seen and competed in this game at the highest level, so it's exciting to have him on our team."

DiVincenzo hopes to go where others have gone after a season with the Warriors. His faith is such that the two-year contract he signed in July, worth $9.2 million, allows him to opt out after the first year.

Golden State succeeded in 2014-15, as Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa and Justin Holiday revived their careers, but had no such luck in 2015-16, as Jason Thompson was waived after 28 games. JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia were big wins in 2016-17.

McGee and Pachulia returned the following season, when the Warriors won a second consecutive championship even as two other experiments - Omri Casspi and Young, aka "Swagy P" - rarely contributed.

DiVincenzo believes his experience at Villanova and with the Bucks have prepared him for the challenge required to become another Golden State success story.

"He laid the blueprint for us," DiVincenzo said of Wright's program at Villanova. "Going to Milwaukee was very similar and then coming here, it's something that I'm very comfortable with. It's an environment that I can thrive in, so I'm happy with it."

RELATED: What to expect from DiVincenzo during 2022-23 season

Having been around the facility since mid-August, DiVincenzo has a sense of the operation and the principles behind the team's success. The accountability and the commitment and the focus - all with elements of joy.

Playing time will be the best way to measure DiVincenzo's time with the Warriors. If can't get on the floor, it means he didn't measure up. If he gets in the rotation and stays, well, he wins and so do the Warriors.

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