Despite a disappointing 2019-20 season, has Denzel Valentine done enough to prove he deserves another contract with the Chicago Bulls?
With all the questions swirling around the Chicago Bulls these days, its easy to find yourself lost in a current of controversies and future plans.
Will the team’s new management keep Jim Bolyen? Do they have a plan to attract high-profile free agents? Where does Lauri Markkanen stand? Who can the Bulls draft to put them firmly in playoff contention?
In the middle of all that confusion, it’s easy to forget about the small decisions that need to be made. The ones that might not win the Chicago Bulls a championship tomorrow or even the next day, but may prove to be important to the overall development of the team nonetheless.
Case in point, Denzel Valentine’s free agency.
While Valentine isn’t even the flashiest free agent on the Bulls, that “honor” belongs to Kris Dunn, he could still be a crucial piece of the puzzle for this team.
After a forgettable season where he spent more time riding the bench and sparring with Jim Boylen than making an impact on the court, you might be understandably hard-pressed to remember why Valentine would hold such value.
Don’t be hasty though. If you flashback to the good ole days of the Chicago Bulls offense, at least in comparison to the dark ages we’ve suffered in this year, you’ll see that Valentine showed some promising signs.
In his last healthy season under Fred Hoiberg, Valentine shot 38 percent from 3-point range while doing a little bit of everything on both sides of the ball. A combo shooting guard and small forward who averages 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and close to a steal a game might not exactly scream franchise player these days, but those stats still hint at where Valentine’s value lies.
Under the right offense, Valentine could quietly be a solid rotational piece off the bench for the Bulls. He provides an outside shooting touch that’s always in demand these days, and he’s shown flashes of just enough playmaking and defensive ability to be a factor no matter what the team asks of him in that role.
Add to that some room to develop on the court due to only playing in a little over two seasons worth of games, and it’s easy to imagine Valentine being a valuable contributor on the Bulls.
If the team plays its cards right, that shouldn’t have to come at a huge cost either.
Valentine’s a restricted free agent, and he just doesn’t feel like the kind of player that’s going to get a lot of attention from competitors at this point in his career. If the team’s new management can mend some fences with Valentine over his rough time with Boylen, than there’s plenty of reason to believe that he could become a cheap and reliable player to help solidify the Bulls bench.
In other words, don’t let all these big franchise-altering questions distract you from some of the smaller decisions the Chicago Bulls have to make this offseason. They may very well turn out to be more important to the team’s future success than you would imagine.