Jabari Parker’s arrival and the development of Chandler Hutchison will make it hard for Valentine to find minutes next year.
A vital piece of the core moving forward. At seasons end GM John Paxson used those terms to describe Denzel Valentine’s role with this team in the immediate future.
Perhaps those sentiments expressed by Paxson explain Valentine’s bravado in regards to his role moving forward. “I feel like I should have a bigger role next year,” Valentine said. “I definitely should be a starter coming in. I definitely want to improve and be a for-sure starter on this team.”
A willingness to compete and confidence in his game has never been Valentine’s problem. Nor has he had any real issues with his ability to make shots at the NBA level. Valentine’s roadblocks to success come with his well documented lack of athleticism. And that lack of athleticism was put on full display recently during the Drew League.
However little stock you put in the Drew League is irrelevant. Yes, you aren’t necessarily playing against NBA level talent. But there in lies the issue. Valentine repeatedly had difficulty staying in front of lesser talented players.
And don’t think the Bulls front office hasn’t noticed these issues since drafting Valentine 3 years ago. It has taken a while for the Bulls to address this in not so subtle terms. But Valentine officially has his answer moving forward as to his future role.
They drafted Boise State wing Chandler Hutchison in June, and last week signed Jabari Parker to a two-year, $40 million contract. Hutchison plays the same position as Valentine. And Parker, who is slated to start at Valentine’s position, functioned better playing at the 4.
Is there any guess as to who dropped deeper on the depth chart?
Where exactly does Valentine fit in? Is he still a key role player moving forward?
Valentine can still be of some value for the Bulls as a member of the second unit.
The former Michigan State standout averaged 10.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists. He shot close to 40% on his 3 point shots. He can play some two-guard because of his playmaking, and can also play the wing because he’s a solid defensive rebounder.
But with Justin Holiday still on the roster and Hutchison’s athleticism on the wing, Valentine could be third on the depth chart at the off-guard spot and small forward.
With that being said, Valentine seems undeterred in his own ability to contribute to the team. “You can’t worry about the franchise’s plans … or what people want you to do,” Valentine said when the season ended. “You just got to do your job as far as making sure I’m ready to play. And when I’m in the game, I’m playing the best I can of my abilities. Making the right plays, shooting the right shots, playing defense, and if people don’t like it, the team doesn’t like it, then whatever.”
It Valentine can do his part he just might stick. At least for the short-term, because the rest is out of his control.