76ers

NBA draft profile: Villanova G Donte DiVincenzo

NBA draft profile: Villanova G Donte DiVincenzo

Donte DiVincenzo     

Position: Guard

Height: 6-4

Weight: 200

School: Villanova

The Michael Jordan of Delaware has come a long way from his first season at Villanova. After leading Salesianum High School to two state titles, DiVincenzo came to Jay Wright as a highly-touted prospect. He struggled initially, most notably with his defense. He was redshirted in 2015-16 after playing very little in nine games.

During his redshirt freshman season, DiVincenzo began carving out his role with the Wildcats, averaging 25.5 minutes a contest and becoming a big part of Wright’s rotation. This past season, DiVincenzo became a star. After being named Big East Sixth Man of the Year, DiVincenzo had a phenomenal NCAA Tournament that culminated in him being named Most Outstanding Player of the Championship Game. 

During his breakout season, DiVincenzo averaged 13.4 points and 3.5 assists while shooting 40 percent from three. 

Strengths
DiVincenzo’s biggest and perhaps most underrated strength is his athleticism. He’s quick and he can jump out of the building. The blocks he had in the championship were just a couple of the many blocks where he demonstrated his explosive leaping ability. 

He was instant offense off the bench for Villanova and that should translate to the NBA. He’s a three-level scorer. He’s proven he can shoot the three, shoot off the dribble in the midrange and finish at the rim. Again, his athleticism allows him to finish and he’s strong enough to do so through contact. At times, he ran the point, providing some versatility as a combo guard. He has decent vision and feel.

That redshirt year must’ve made DiVincenzo hungry because you would’ve never known he struggled defensively. He’s a pesky defender with the quickness to guard ones and twos. He’s not afraid to be physical. He’s also a very good rebounder for his size.

Weaknesses
At just under 6-foot-4, he’s a little undersized for an NBA two. He ran the offense at times for Villanova but it’s not necessarily his strength. His points tend to come in bunches and his shooting can be inconsistent. When he doesn’t have it going, he has a tendency to force things instead of letting the game come to him. 

He’s not long and he’s more of a solid team defender than a strong on-the-ball defender.

NBA comparison
There’s a little Tim Hardaway Jr. to DiVincenzo’s game. Both players have great athleticism and both can score on all three levels. They also both score in bunches and struggle with shooting from long range consistently. Neither player is particularly long or a lockdown defender, but both play with great energy and play solid team defense. Like DiVincenzo, Hardaway Jr. also came from a successful college program and played in big games.

How he'd fit with Sixers
DiVincenzo could be an impact player off the Sixers’ bench almost immediately. With his experience in college and microwave scoring, he’d be a welcome addition. DiVincenzo could fit into Marco Belinelli’s role but offer much more athleticism, ball handling ability and defense, though the Sixers would obviously lose experience.

Draft projection
This is interesting. Early in the process, DiVincenzo was projected to go in the late 20s or maybe even in the second round. After tearing up the combine, there’s no way he makes it past No. 30. His draft stock has taken a similar rise to DeAndre’ Bembry’s a couple years back, when the St. Joe’s wing was taken 21st overall by Atlanta. Will he make it to 26? Possibly, and the Sixers should take a long look if he does.

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Joel Embiid snubbed for All-NBA, receives Second Team nod

Joel Embiid snubbed for All-NBA, receives Second Team nod

Another day and another silver medal for Joel Embiid.

The Sixers' All-Star center on Thursday was named Second Team All-NBA a day after getting the same distinction on the All-Defensive team.

The Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic took home First Team honors. Jokic had a terrific season and was a huge part in Denver capturing the West’s second seed, but there’s no way he should have been voted ahead of Embiid. 

Unlike the defensive team, Embiid did receive a respectable 40 first-place votes, but by any metric you measure, Embiid had a better season than Jokic.

Embiid averaged more points (27.5 to 20.1), rebounds (13.6 to 10.8) and blocks (1.9 to 0.7) a game. The only other players to achieve Embiid's numbers since blocks became an official stat are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob McAdoo and Shaquille O'Neal — all Hall of Famers. But beyond that, Embiid impacts the game on both ends. Jokic’s defense is probably a little underrated, but it’s nowhere near the level of Embiid. Embiid affects more shots at the rim than any player in the NBA, including reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. 

There was an argument made that Embiid needs to play in more games to receive higher accolades. That’s absurd. Gobert played in 56 games last season when he captured DPOY. If you’re going by team record, should Jokic’s three more regular-season wins really count for anything?

It’s fair to note how arbitrary these awards are. Dwyane Wade received a vote for the Second Team while rookie Marvin Bagley received a vote for the Third Team for some insane reason. (On a side note, Ben Simmons did receive seven Third Team votes.)

Still, if you’re the Sixers, you hope it just adds fuel to Embiid’s fire. With criticism about his health, his poor performance in the second round, the Game 7 loss and now not earning First Team All-NBA or All-Defense, there’s plenty there.

If Embiid isn’t motivated this offseason, he may never be motivated.

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Sixers mailbag: Suitors for Tobias Harris? Ben Simmons for LeBron James?

Sixers mailbag: Suitors for Tobias Harris? Ben Simmons for LeBron James?

We asked for your questions regarding how the season ended, free agency and the draft.

And you didn’t disappoint, Sixers fans.

So many questions came in that we had to split it up into two mailbags.

Here’s part one, touching on Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons and Kawhi Leonard’s buzzer-beater.

According to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Harris will have plenty of suitors this offseason. Sixers fans really soured on Harris in a hurry. The emotions from the Toronto series are still raw and that 7-of-23 performance in a pivotal Game 4 is still fresh in everyone’s mind, but cut Harris a little slack.

This was just his second time in the postseason — the other time being when the Pistons were swept in 2015-16 — and he was actually excellent in the final three games of the Brooklyn series. Who outside of Jimmy Butler was consistently good in the second round? Harris had an All-Star caliber season, is just 26 and has improved every season of his career. I’m not saying the Sixers absolutely need to max him, but if they don’t, somebody will.

Speaking of “fixated,” there have been multiple people in my mentions about Walker. I guess because he dropped 60 on the Sixers this season everyone thinks he’s a world-beater. I like Walker a lot. He can go off any given night and would offer a strong complement to Ben Simmons.

But the reality is Walker is 6-foot-3, is not a good defender and is already 29 years old. At the same age, Butler is unequivocally the better option. He may not be a perfect fit on the floor, but he offers much more as a defender and is the kind of leader the Sixers have needed.

Any time you’re talking about the greatest player maybe ever, you have to consider it. The biggest concern for me would be that James doesn’t want to be here. He had his chance and chose L.A. for a reason. His family is happy there and he has aspirations for life after basketball. Also, it would seem like part of the Sixers’ appeal to James would be playing with Simmons.

James will turn 35 this season and is signed for two more years and then has a player option. Simmons will turn 23 this summer and is eligible to sign his rookie max extension which would keep him here for the next six seasons. I get being all-in for a championship, but you have to balance that with the future at least a little bit.

Sixers fans won’t like my answer, but I think the team’s fate is the same even if gets to OT. Joel Embiid had already played 45 minutes at that point and you would need him for every second of that overtime given how poorly they performed with him on the bench. 

Could Butler have worked his magic and gone off in OT? Maybe, but the Raptors seemed to have all the momentum down the stretch.

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