Knicks’ Donte DiVincenzo Has Ringing Endorsement For Coach

Donte DiVincenzo, Knicks, NBA
Mar 23, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) looks to drive past Brooklyn Nets guard Dennis Smith Jr. (4) in the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has garnered quite a reputation during his time in the NBA. He is known as a defensive-minded head coach who will push his players hard, looking to get as much as possible out of their performance.

But, throughout his stops in the NBA, Thibodeau has seemingly worn out his welcome rather quickly. He is the kind of head coach that will help a franchise get back on track, but questions have remained about whether or not he is the guy to help get the team over the hump after that.

A big reason for that is how it has been perceived that he handles younger players. Thibodeau is straightforward when it comes to who receives minutes in his rotation. If you don’t do a few key principles, you will not see the court, at least for not as many minutes as some may believe you should.

That has led to Thibodeau being voted the coach players would least like to play for in the NBA. Sam Amick of The Athletic detailed things in a recent story, but the voting isn’t something that current players on the Knicks care about.

In fact, they are going to bat for Thibodeau. One of the players to speak out about the voting was Donte DiVincenzo, who spoke to The Athletic after the team’s win over the Golden State Warriors last week.

“That poll, for me — and excuse my language — but it doesn’t mean s—,” DiVincenzo told The Athletic. “I’ve seen the poll, but I signed here.”

It certainly looks as if DiVincenzo made the right decision, ignoring what some of his peers in the NBA believe of Thibodeau. As one of the players who has earned the trust of his head coach, DiVincenzo has turned in the best season of his career.

He has flourished as the team’s starting shooting guard, as the chemistry with his collegiate teammates Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart has been incredible to watch. The Nova Knicks are rolling, and DiVincenzo continued giving a ringing endorsement to Thibodeau.

“I don’t care (about Thibodeau’s reputation),” DiVincenzo continued. “I don’t care. Guys in the NBA now (are different) than before. Everybody wants the game all offense. Nobody wants to come in and practice. But me, being my first year here, I think he’s done a great job of balancing things.

“From the outside world, there’s always (a different view). But in our house — in-house — we have a good dynamic and we enjoy it and everybody enjoys being around each other. To the outside world, you don’t really know. All you know is perception. All you know is the history from other teams (Thibodeau has coached) and his years with different organizations. But we’ve had plenty of rest days, plenty of off days.”

From an outsider’s perspective, Thibodeau looks like a disciplinarian who runs his players into the ground. Some of that was necessitated as the Knicks are without several key players, mean meant leaning on the healthy players to play huge minutes.

While it was a change for some of them, Thibodeau had his team prepared. DiVincenzo touched on that as well, speaking about how productive the team’s practices are despite the reputation of Thibodeau working them hard not being all it is advertised to be.

“They’re not,” DiVincenzo confirmed. “I played for (the Warriors’ Steve) Kerr and played for Coach Bud (former Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer). It’s not like you come here and all of a sudden you’re just running track every day (in practice). I think what he does by far better than anybody I’ve been around is he’s the most prepared. So it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go for two hours on your feet and running. But when you’re in there, you’re gonna lock in and you’re gonna get the stuff done and we’re gonna get out of there.”

Preparation is something that Thibodeau hangs his hat on and ensures trickles down to his players. There isn’t a team in the NBA that comes out ready to play as regularly as the Knicks, who don’t mess around and handle business on the court. 

That is the tone Thibodeau has set since Day 1 of arriving with the franchise and the hard work is paying off. New York is currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference despite their injuries and is within striking distance of a top-two seed.

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