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Knicks Sharpshooter Ineligible for Most Improved Player

Apr 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) tries to hold onto the ball in the second quarter against the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

One year after signing Jalen Brunson in free agency to a deal that has provided excellent value, the New York Knicks did likewise with Donte DiVincenzo last offseason. The 27-year-old and the team agreed on a four-year deal worth $46.87 million.

Starting the season as a reserve, DiVincenzo usurped since-traded Quentin Grimes in the starting lineup in early December. His outside shooting was a huge boost to a Knicks team that will be the second seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs finishing with a 50-32 record.

The six-year veteran’s play has led to many believing he should be in the Most Improved Player race. That won’t be the case though as it has been learned that DiVincenzo is ineligible for end-of-season awards.

Knicks Sharpshooter Ineligible for Most Improved Player

Why is DiVincenzo Ineligible?

Prior to the season, the NBA instituted a 65-game rule for end-of-season awards. That is the amount of games one must have played to be eligible for those honors. The move was made in hopes of curtailing players from sitting out random games for load management reasons.

Donte DiVincenzo played in 81 games this season, just missing one. His playing time was nearly at 30 minutes per contest (29.7). How could he be ineligible after playing so much?

Well, there’s more to that 65-game minimum. Under the rules of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, the player must have played at least 20 minutes in the game for it to count towards award purposes. Each player would be allowed a maximum of two games added to their total where they played between 15-20 minutes.

Due to these rules, DiVincenzo will fall just short of being eligible. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard finished with 62 outings of at least 20 minutes. Adding two more where he played between 15-20 minutes, that leaves him with 64 games. If DiVincenzo had played just one more game of at least 20 minutes, he would have been eligible.

Expect the NBA to look into making changes to the rule because it does seem absurd that DiVincenzo missed only one game, basically played 30 minutes a contest, yet is somehow ineligible.

DiVincenzo Set Team Records This Season

This season, DiVincenzo connected on a career-high 40.1% of his three-point tries. His three-point prowess allowed him to set some new Knicks franchise records this season.

In his 81 games, DiVincenzo made 283 shots from beyond the arc. That easily surpassed Evan Fournier’s 241 in 2021-22 which was the previous high in a single-season for a Knicks player.

On March 25, DiVincenzo nailed 11 three-pointers in a victory over the Detroit Pistons. The previous single-game record for a Knicks player was 10 shared by Evan Fournier (1/6/2022) and J.R. Smith (4/6/2014).

While the news of being ineligible is disappointing, it shouldn’t derail what has been a wonderful season for DiVincenzo. His 15.5 points per game easily became a new career-high over the 10.4 he averaged with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2020-21.

Donte DiVincenzo and the Knicks await the winner of Wednesday’s Play-In Tournament Game between the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers. Whoever prevails in that game will meet New York in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.


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