Chicago Bulls: Denzel Valentine’s hot shooting adds pivotal wing depth

(Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images) /

There’s a nice emerging backcourt piece that the Chicago Bulls have this season in shooting guard Denzel Valentine with his hot scoring of late.

A breakthrough that was somewhat unexpected for the Chicago Bulls so far this season came from fourth-year shooting guard Denzel Valentine. As one of the top, if not the best altogether, distance shooters and distributing guards that the Bulls have coming off the bench, Valentine is an important piece that could instill more success in this team in the near future.

Two of the most unexpected breakthroughs for head coach Jim Boylen and the Bulls as of late were Valentine and the former Arkansas Razorbacks rim-running rookie big man Daniel Gafford. Boylen is giving Gafford and Valentine both more playing time of late, which was warranted about since the beginning of the regular season. Gafford actually showed out in a big way in the preseason.

Despite more than 20 combined points from Gafford and Valentine off the bench on Dec. 9 in a home meeting at the United Center to the Toronto Raptors, the final score still resulted in a one-point loss for the Bulls. The Bulls now sit with a record of 8-17 after the first 25 games of this disappointing start to the regular season.

At least two of the Bulls bright spots deeper down the bench are younger players that could benefit this franchise over the long-term. If the Bulls can figure out their issues from the front office down to the coaching staff, promising depth pieces in store like Valentine and Gafford provide a lot of hope for the fans.

To get into the specifics of why Valentine should be providing the fans hope, he is bouncing back quickly from an ankle injury that sidelined him throughout the entire 2018-19 season. He is shooting 45.0 percent from beyond the three-point line and has a player efficiency rating hovering around 20.0 so far.

Most of the advanced stats for Valentine really like him so far too. He has a career-best offensive (121) and defensive rating (107). Valentine also has a career-best offensive box plus/minus rating of 3.6.

But most of the value that Valentine brings to the table comes with his shooting ability. His 62.1 percent true shooting is the best on the team among the usual outside shooters. Boylen needs to rely on him more and more if the Bulls are going to continue to see this uptick in three-point attempts each game. The Bulls attempted a whopping 46-threes in the loss to the Raptors on Monday night.

With the lack of floor spacers that the Bulls possess at the moment (doesn’t help with the long-term injury to Otto Porter Jr.), Valentine’s presence on the floor becomes much more valuable.

While Valentine did see a large uptick in his role off the bench of late, his minutes need to keep increasing. He is averaging just 11 minutes per game this season in the 11 games he’s played in. Get that number up around 15-20 per game, especially if his hot shooting and vision continues, to get the Bulls more overall help off the bench.

Next. Bulls grades through the first 25 games. dark

The emergence of key weapons in the Bulls rotation like Valentine and Gafford make it all the more necessary for the front office and coaching staff to figure their problems out, and soon. The Bulls do have a couple of pieces in place that are at least good enough for this team to make a run at a lower seed in the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.