Denzel Valentine is the first NBA Draft lottery pick to come out of Michigan State since 2001 (Jason Richardson).
The Chicago Bulls selected the AP National Player of the Year and Big Ten Player of the Year with the 14th pick in tonight’s NBA Draft. Bulls GM Gar Forman said at the Bulls practice facility Thursday night that he thought Denzel “was a fit on so many levels, a big time winner.”
Forman also said that Zel fit into the direction that the Bulls wanted to go, indicating that the team is “wanting to get younger and more athletic, and play with pace.”
Here’s a link to what the experts and draftniks thought Zel might land heading into draft night and why.
Denzel Valentine is certainly a “Gar Guy,” as he’s an upperclassman from a big, brand name school who is very well accomplished. The Bulls do certainly draft guys who most basketball fans have heard of, very often taking players from premier programs who stayed in school for a long time and won both individual and team honors.
Forman said that Valentine has “great instincts for the game, tremendous feel for the game of basketball,” adding that he also “passes it on the move, passes it in transition, a great three point shooter, shot a very high percentage.”
Where does he actually fit though? Valentine can play three positions (point guard, shooting guard and small forward) but his natural position is the same spot where the Bulls face of the franchise and best player, Jimmy Butler resides. The Bulls GM said repeatedly Thursday night that the team has no interest in trading Butler, so does Valentine fit?
Gar Forman himself thinks that’s a great question.
“He is versatile he can play the one in certain situation, I think he’s a natural two, but he can also play three,” said Forman.
“He’s extremely long and I think that can help with the versatility as far as who he can guard defensively.”
Draymond Green and Denzel Valentine both won Big 10 player of the year their senior seasons. pic.twitter.com/BP8SzaxCzt
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 24, 2016
The last Michigan State player to win Big Ten Player of the Year before Denzel Valentine was Draymond Green, and the two have often been compared to one another despite the fact that they play totally different positions.
“Yeah, he’s my big bro,” Denzel told me during our exclusive conversation at the 2014 Big Ten Tournament.
“We talked about it he jokes with me because he has all the records, and he jokes with me and says I’ll never be him, but he’s a great player and that’s a good comparison,” Valentine continued.
The analogy holds true when it comes to leadership and intangibles. Valentine assumed a leadership and go-to-guy role during his MSU career just like Green did. Both made an impact as soon as they got to East Lansing, and stayed in school all four years.
When we spoke with Valentine after being selected by the Bulls, he said this regarding the Draymond juxtaposition.
“I’m very proud to carry on the torch of the Michigan State tradition in the NBA.” He also added that Green was one of the first people he reached out to on draft night, and one of the primary mentors he’ll look to when it comes to adjusting from college to the NBA.
“I think it’s interesting because of how hard he competes, and some of those intangibles that I talked about initially, I think that’s where you see the Draymond comparisons, obviously their games are very different,” Forman said.
“I know in talking with Coach Izzo, who we’ve known for quite awhile, he was just glowing in talking about how he impacts winning and what he brings on a nightly basis. He talked about how some guys will play hurt, I believe what he said was that Denzel will play dead.”
Asked how he fits in as a NBA player, and with the Bulls specifically, Valentine responded: “One-two-three, really it doesn’t matter just as long as I can get on the floor and make an impact.” He sees his versatility as his primary strength with having to get adjusted to the speed of the game as the main area that he needs to work on.
Denzel Valentine, who’s agent is B.J. Armstrong, same as Derrick Rose, answered concerns about the health of his knee with “I’m healthy now, I can’t really control what they think of me, I just have to handle my business.”
Forman added that the Valentine fully checked out with the Bulls medical team.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes regularly to the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye publication.
He also consistently appears on numerous talk shows all across the country. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram
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