SAN FRANCISCO — After lavishing reward on Donte DiVincenzo, Stephen Curry had one request. Get DiVincenzo’s ideas on what it looks like “to be a true vet.”

When DiVincenzo heard the query, then discovered it was crafted by Curry, he simply shook his head.

“Steph’s an a——,” DiVincenzo, seated at his locker, mentioned with a smile, as if he might image Curry cracking up from wherever he was. “I’m not a vet.”

DiVincenzo is in his fifth season and a few month shy of his twenty sixth birthday. He disagrees with the notion he’s a veteran. Even on a roster the place eight gamers are youthful than him, he scoffs at such labeling.

“How many years Draymond (Green) got? Eleven?” DiVincenzo defined. “Steph is at what? Fifteen? Fourteen? Klay is at 12. Those are the vets. That’s how I view it.”

Instead, DiVincenzo sees himself as a fulcrum on a roster cut up into two generations. The center baby. Yeah, that’s a lot better, he thinks. But firmly behind Kevon Looney and Andrew Wiggins, who’re one and two years older than him, respectively.

“Wiggs is in year nine. Loon’s at eight. This dude is …” DiVincenzo pauses, swivels his chair so he might level at Andre Iguodala’s title tag above the locker to his left, “is in year 35. I ain’t no vet.”

Unfortunately for his protest, DiVincenzo has established such a presence on the Warriors. Wednesday’s 112-107 win over the Jazz at Chase Center was Golden State’s third straight victory. The trio of wins coincided with DiVincenzo’s return from an sickness on the street journey. The Warriors have gained 4 straight with him within the lineup.

On Wednesday, DiVincenzo performed a game-high, and career-high for him, 38 minutes and 59 seconds. The Warriors wanted each second from DiVincenzo as a result of all three perimeter starters — Curry (left shoulder), Thompson (damage administration) and Wiggins (non-COVID sickness) — had been out. He gave the Warriors a season-high-tying 19 factors, together with the game-sealing free throws with 19.3 seconds left. He performed each second of the fourth quarter, spearheading the pick-and-roll protection that helped maintain Utah to 13 factors on 4-for-25 capturing within the fourth quarter.

This was simply his twenty sixth sport with the Warriors, however he’s already entrenched as a stabilizer. He has the abilities, basketball IQ and demeanor to do nearly regardless of the Warriors want. Wednesday, it was usually to be the grownup on the ground, as coach Steve Kerr calls it. The Warriors performed numerous two-way guard Ty Jerome, and two-way ahead Anthony Lamb, and second-year forwards Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. Even rookie ahead Patrick Baldwin Jr. received some significant minutes, most of them got here with DiVincenzo on the ground.

Jerome had 14 of his 17 factors within the second half, enjoying largely alongside DiVincenzo, who defended the purpose guard on protection whereas Jerome ran the purpose on offense.

During the run when the Warriors took management, DiVincenzo and Looney had been joined on the courtroom by Jerome, Lamb and Kuminga. The lineup hadn’t performed collectively earlier than. But was workable as a result of DiVincenzo makes it so. Jerome received a steal and drilled a transition 3-pointer to place the Warriors, who trailed by double digits for a lot of the sport, forward 104-101. After the protection compelled Utah’s eighth consecutive miss, DiVincenzo capped the 10-0 run with a 3-pointer the subsequent time down. The Warriors by no means trailed once more.

“It feels different to win this game based on the circumstances,” Kerr mentioned. “This was a game we wouldn’t have won a few weeks ago. I think our young guys are really growing. We’re getting great performances every night from guys like JK  and (Anthony) Lamb, Ty Jerome — and Donte has been fantastic and not just knocking down shots, but defending and playing with force.”

In Tuesday’s win over Charlotte, DiVincenzo didn’t even rating. But his fingerprints on the sport had been 9 rebounds, seven assists and a steal. He additionally stayed glued to Terry Rozier, who’s burned the Warriors earlier than however wanted 18 pictures to get his 19 factors.

That was as a lot DiVincenzo’s form of sport as one the place his offense is clicking.

“He tells me the same thing every game,” DiVincenzo mentioned of recommendation from his father that shapes his basketball ethos. “He said, ‘Go hustle and get some rebounds.’ That’s the only thing he wants to see. Play hard and go get some rebounds. … That’s how I was brought up. Do all the dirty work and go get some rebounds. Making and missing shots is one thing, but don’t have a donut in that rebound column. And that’s kind of my mindset. Track it, get it and go.”

Against Memphis on Sunday, he stepped seamlessly into the rivalry, matching the intensity of the affair. He was sport for the same old smoke session between the Grizzlies and Warriors, and all of his 19 factors felt well timed, particularly his 5 3-pointers.

This three-game homestand was a microcosm of how invaluable DiVincenzo has change into to the Warriors, who’re 16-8 when he performs and 2-8 when he doesn’t. In the period of the 2 timelines, when gamers who can adapt to the Warriors’ fashion are at a premium, DiVincenzo has been the proper match. After successful a nationwide championship at Villanova, then getting his NBA grooming with the Milwaukee Bucks, the place he gained an NBA championship, DiVincenzo has no downside vibing with Golden State’s tradition and system. Because, at their essence, they’re about successful. That’s the identical language DiVincenzo speaks.

“A prototypical experienced college player turned pro that’s been around winning and knows how to win,” Curry mentioned. “He’s committed to always impacting the game whether it’s rebounding, defending, scoring. He’s got an opportunity here to lead and cement himself as a guy every team should want on their roster just because he can plug a lot of holes and do a lot of different things. He’s given us a lot of, just, presence. He can play with pretty much any lineup.”

The chorus from everybody about DiVincenzo is actually the identical. Cares most about successful. Plays the sport the appropriate means. Does all of the little issues. Unselfish. All of that factors to the identical factor — DiVincenzo’s mindset.

His method to the sport, his understanding of basketball rules and foundational schemes, speaks to his superior pedigree. His instincts, his experience of when and tips on how to use his voice, the arrogance he carries regardless of being in a brand new area, it’s like he’s been round for years. Like a vet.

“I’m not a vet,” DiVincenzo repeats.

Jerome, the fourth-year guard out of Virginia who was the twenty fourth decide in 2019, isn’t shopping for DiVincenzo’s reasoning.

“He’s crazy. He’s definitely a vet. He’s got five years in the league and a ring. That makes you a vet. He’s a vet.”

DiVincenzo’s rejection of the tagging isn’t out of self-importance, although the ginger’s crispy fade is absent of grays and a testomony to his youthfulness. It’s extra about his want to perform extra.

He was the younger man in Milwaukee, drafted No. 17 in 2018. But in his third season, he tore a ligament in his left ankle in Game 3 of the Bucks’ 2021 first-round collection towards Miami. He missed the remainder of the playoffs and didn’t return to motion till seven months later. He additionally didn’t get a brand new contract from the Bucks, who had already traded for Grayson Allen to, basically, change DiVincenzo. He was nearly traded to Boston however landed with the Kings. Four months later, the Kings declined to provide him a qualifying supply and he turned an unrestricted free agent.

DiVincenzo signed with the Warriors to revive his fame and land with a staff that values what he does. Veterans are established. Veterans are confirmed. Veterans have a observe report. Veterans have carved out their worth within the league. DiVincenzo remains to be constructing.

It took a minute to acclimate, to really feel like that blue and gold was in him. He was reminded of Milwaukee when he received right here, with a few of the methods the Warriors operated and the usual of the tradition. He had developed a routine in Wisconsin that served him effectively; switching it up took some changes. But after he missed three weeks earlier this season with a hamstring damage, the Warriors had a tricky house sport towards Cleveland. It was his first sport again. He performed shy of 16 minutes. But the way in which they competed, the way in which he needed to lock in on Darius Garland, sync with Draymond Green, and run some level whereas Cleveland struggled to maintain up with Curry, it made DiVincenzo really feel like he was really a part of the staff. That was Nov. 11.

That’s why the jesting he receives as a vet on this squad is a mountain of validation. A weighty praise disguised as banter. Curry and the staff’s championship stars have declared DiVincenzo worthy of their pursuit for a fifth championship. They like when he’s on the courtroom. Not each newcomer will get their approval.

The younger gamers look as much as DiVincenzo. They respect his recommendation and his savvy.

“Donte is an amazing part of our team,” Jordan Poole mentioned. “Just being able to play on the court with him — to share minutes with him and just trust that he is going to make the right play, that he is going to be aggressive, that he is going to make big shots and make big plays and make big stops — is huge. He is a really big part of why we won these last couple of games, and he is going to be really big for us all season.”

One of DiVincenzo’s roles, and why he contends he’s not a vet, is to function a mediator between the generations. He understands the outdated heads on the roster and he’s shut sufficient in age to the younger weapons to translate. He can’t be a vet and a go-between.

DiVincenzo is an out of doors voice who can second the feelings of the celebs and coaches as they groom the children, particularly James Wiseman, Kuminga and Moody. DiVincenzo can echo how helpful it’s to be groomed in a successful surroundings. He can extol the virtues of persistence as a younger participant whereas underscoring the values of mentorship.

“The grass isn’t always greener,” he mentioned. “That’s the biggest thing. Just because something is not going your way in the moment, for a stretch of games or whatever, you can’t just say, ‘I’m gonna go somewhere else.’ Stay the course. Keep rockin’ — especially when you have great vets around you. I had great vets. George Hill. Eric Bledsoe. I’d struggle for five, six games and they’d tell me, ‘Relax. Everything’s gonna work out.’ And that’s the same thing I try to tell these guys.”

If he talks like a vet. And performs like a vet …


Jonathan Kuminga is emerging into a defensive force for the Warriors

(Photo: Noah Graham / NBAE by way of Getty Images)

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