DiVincenzo's Breakout Season Overshadowed by NBA Award Eligibility Rules

WriterEthan Johnson

17 April 2024

DiVincenzo's Breakout Season Overshadowed by NBA Award Eligibility Rules

The NBA's Most Improved Player (MIP) award criteria have sidelined New York Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo from contention, despite a season that saw him shatter personal and franchise records. His journey from averaging 9.4 points per game to a staggering 15.5, along with setting a Knicks record for triples in a season, underscores a year of significant growth and impact. Yet, due to a technicality in the NBA's eligibility rules for award consideration, DiVincenzo's remarkable season will not earn him a spot in the MIP award voting.

Career-Best Performance Goes Unrewarded

  • Scoring Leap: DiVincenzo's average points per game increased from 9.4 to 15.5.
  • Three-Point Mastery: Set a Knicks record with 283 three-pointers, trailing only behind NBA luminaries Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic.
  • Durability and Stamina: Appeared in 81 of 82 games, amassing 2,360 minutes under the demanding coaching of Tom Thibodeau.

The Eligibility Quirk

The NBA stipulates that for a player to be eligible for major awards, they must participate in a minimum of 65 games, with at least 20 minutes of playtime per game. DiVincenzo fell short of this requirement, with only 62 games meeting the criteria. Even considering the league's allowance for slight leeway, DiVincenzo's 64 qualifying appearances (after adjustments) did not meet the threshold, rendering him ineligible for the MIP award.

A Season of What-Ifs

  • Close Calls: DiVincenzo logged 19½ minutes or more in 66 games, with four instances falling just shy of the 20-minute mark.
  • No Rounding Up: The NBA's strict adherence to its criteria, without rounding up minute totals, contributed to DiVincenzo's ineligibility.
  • Voter Dilemma: Award voters, including ESPN's JJ Redick and The Ringer's Michael Pina, expressed intentions to vote for DiVincenzo before realizing the eligibility constraints.

Broader Implications

The ineligibility of both DiVincenzo and teammate Isaiah Hartenstein, who also saw a significant year-over-year improvement, highlights potential limitations in the NBA's award qualifications. This situation may prompt discussions within the league regarding adjustments to the criteria to better reflect player achievements and contributions.

A Season to Remember

Despite the disappointment of missing out on the MIP award, Donte DiVincenzo's 2022-23 season remains a testament to his hard work, dedication, and undeniable talent. His record-setting performance has not only elevated his game but also solidified his place as a key contributor to the Knicks' aspirations.

Interesting Fact: Donte DiVincenzo's 283 three-pointers not only set a new franchise record for the Knicks but also placed him in the elite company of some of the NBA's best shooters, marking him as one of the league's most proficient long-range marksmen this season.

As the NBA continues to evolve, perhaps so too will its criteria for award eligibility, ensuring that outstanding performances like DiVincenzo's are duly recognized.

About the author
Ethan Johnson
Ethan Johnson

Ethan Johnson is a seasoned writer with a deep passion for American basketball. His engaging writing style and insightful analysis have made him a go-to source for NBA enthusiasts. Known for his witty commentary and in-depth coverage, Ethan brings a fresh perspective to the world of sports journalism.

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