Denzel Valentine wasted no time beginning his transition to “the league.” The Chicago Bulls selected him with the 14th and final pick of the NBA Draft Thursday night. By Monday he was at Bulls headquarters to meet the media and display his #45 jersey, the number both he and his Dad wore with the Michigan State Spartans, and briefly worn by Michael Jordan himself during his 1994 Bulls comeback.
In the media session, Bulls GM Gar Forman said that Zel showed up with four or five large duffel bags, indicating that he’s moved in now and ready to hit the ground running.
Denzel Valentine and the rest of the Bulls Summer League squad begin play on July 9th. They’ll take on the Boston Celtics Summer League Squad at COX Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada. As Valentine, the college basketball AP National Player of the Year, begins his professional career, his versatility and his work ethic are his strongest suits.
Forman described him as “natural two” on draft night, that can also play the three and the one if needed. Most people think of him as a three, but Michigan State also needed him to play the one. The Bulls might need to give him some minutes there as well, given how they just traded away their starting one (which they absolutely needed to do), but haven’t presented any kind of legitimate plans to adjust to life without Derrick Rose now.
Will Valentine be part of that plan at the one?
Have a listen to the audio file of our Denzel Valentine exclusive, recorded on Monday after presser, below:
— Paul M. Banks (@PaulMBanks) June 24, 2016
I had to bring up the Tom Izzo quote in the presser just now: "Some guys will or won't play hurt, Denzel will play dead"
— Paul M. Banks (@PaulMBanks) June 27, 2016
If versatility is top trait 1A that Zel brings to a NBA team, then work ethic is top trait 1B. As the above quotes, tweets and story links suggest, Valentine is as dedicated and motivated as any player in the 2016 draft class. He’s also ready to rock right away.
Said ESPN’s Chad Ford on Draft Eve, “one of the appeals obviously is Valentine plays right now. He comes in and he is an immediate contributor. Said Jay Bilas:
“I’ve heard the issues with his knee and knees. I do not — I would not be overly concerned with it were it me, but each one of these NBA teams has a medical staff that will pass on that, and if they don’t red flag it, I think you’re getting a proven winner that’s gotten better every single year he’s been in the game. His shot has improved. He’s gone from a non-shooter when he got to Michigan State to being a guy who’s a really good shooter with a quick release and NBA range. He knows how to play, and he’s a good leader. He knows how to win.”
“I think his only problem in the NBA is going to be on the defensive end. He’s not a spectacular athlete, and so staying in front of some of these big-time athletes at his position is going to be a challenge. But I don’t doubt that he’ll figure it out.”
We’ve looked at how Denzel Valentine fits in with the Chicago Bulls already; with his desire, determination, work ethic and
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.