Denzel Valentine has an excellent opportunity to break out this season

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 21: Denzel Valentine #45 of the Chicago Bulls. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 21: Denzel Valentine #45 of the Chicago Bulls. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Denzel Valentine’s rookie season didn’t exactly go according to plan this past season. That could change with more of an opportunity to shine in his sophomore season.

When the Bulls drafted Denzel Valentine last summer, I was confused.

I had absolutely no idea where he was going to fit in with the likes of Jimmy Butler, Doug McDermott and Dwyane Wade, and his stats reflected my concerns, as he only averaged 17 minutes per game during his rookie season. This season is completely different, however.

Butler and McDermott are both gone and the Bulls are in the middle of a total rebuild, and as it looks now, it won’t be the prettiest rebuild of all time.

But, that doesn’t mean Bulls players and fans won’t be able to find pros to offset the cons. For Valentine, this is the perfect opportunity to find out what kind of an NBA player he is going to be.

More from Bulls News

During his time at Michigan State, Valentine was the leader of his team and had a phenomenal collegiate career. That’s what he should bring to this new-look Bulls squad with a major lack of veteran leadership, especially with Wade’s uncertain future with the organization and Zach LaVine recovering from knee surgery, so I expect Valentine to get comfortable with making plays scoring the basketball.

He has excellent size and length, which helped him tremendously in college where he ran the point a lot of the time. His height gave him a big advantage, as he was able to see over the defense to make plays. His length helped him out-rebound stronger and quicker players. He averaged over seven rebounds and seven assists during his senior season at Michigan State.

Bulls fans didn’t get to see it much last season, as he only averaged five points per game, but Valentine is a versatile scorer. In college, he didn’t hesitate to shoot from deep and he has a very quick release on his jump shot. He shot 40 percent for his career at MSU. He also showed how well he could read the defense coming off of screens, knowing when to stop and shoot the J and when to drive to the basket. His passing also keeps the defense on edge when he drives, giving him his choice of taking the shot, hitting the roller or kicking it out. Valentine averaged almost three turnovers per game, but when you’re playing 33 minutes as the primary ball handler, three is a number you can live with.

Defensively, Valentine needs to improve. In college, his teammates bailed him out a lot, and if he starts this season, he will be a liability down the stretch as the likes of Devin Booker, Jimmy Butler and other talented shooting guards and small forwards will expose that weakness.

Next: Jimmy Butler talks Bulls, Tom Thibodeau and the Timberwolves

Very few young NBA players have a chance to create their own role. Draymond Green (fellow MSU grad) being one of them, but with the lack of an all-star, veteran leadership or even a go-to scorer, Valentine has the perfect opportunity to create his own destiny with the Bulls this season.