Denzel Valentine’s numbers have improved dramatially this year and he knows it

Lost in the resuscitation of Kris Dunn‘s career turnaround year, the revelation that Lauri Markkanen is a special talent, and Bobby Portis‘ incredible PER has been the play of Denzel Valentine.

But don’t think Valentine wasn’t aware of the season he was having.

“I think I had an overall a good year,” said Valentine. “I improved. It’s definitely trending in the right direction. I just have to keep getting better. Hopefully my numbers double again next year. My plan is to double what I did this year and have a great third year.

Valentine had, until joining the group of the walking wounded for the Bulls, enjoyed a career year himself.

He averaged 5.1 points and shot 35 percent overall from three as a rookie last season in 57 games without a start. This season has seen him double his scoring to 10.2 points per game with 39 percent on threes. He had become the Bulls most reliable deep threat since the team traded away Nikola Mirotic.

But if you dig a little deeper you’ll see some other key components of his game that have improved.

Will Gottlieb at The Athletic pointed out these elements of his game in that:

1. Valentine is a fantastic rebounder for his size and position. His 18.3 defensive rebounding percentage put him in some elite level status among other NBA wings for his size.


2. He is in the 93rd percentile among wings in assist to usage ratio, making him quite the playmaker with the ball in his hands.

But for all that self improvement that was noted, Valentine must become more self aware of his weaknesses and keep pushing his limits.

He still has trouble getting to the rim and absorbing contact. He is still an atrocious defender. Neither will help his cause if he plans on starting with Zach Lavine who has his own defensive deficiencies to worry about.

This summer will be huge in offsetting those issues if he really is serious about starting. Athletically, he will never be able to beat his man off the dribble. But with the rest of his game trending up, I wouldn’t count him out just yet.

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