The Bulls picked Michigan State guard Denzel Valentine with the 14th overall pick in last summer’s draft, and though he played limited minutes, the rookie showed flashes of the player he could someday be and the skills that made him the college National Player of the Year last season. Though he didn’t have a chance to play big minutes as a rookie and had some struggles with ankle injury issues, Valentine is a promising young player who the Bulls expect to play a role in their future. Let’s take a look at some of his best performances from his rookie season.
at Washington Wizards, January 10 – Though the Bulls lost this game 101-99 on the road to the Wizards, Valentine stepped up and showed Bulls fans what he could truly do. In a game where the Bulls were missing both Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler, they stayed competitive throughout and even held a lead for much of the game, in large part to the play of Valentine. Denzel poured in a team-high 19 points and hit 5 three pointers, posting a plus/minus of +16 in the two point loss. It was Valentine’s best game of the season, and the Bulls hope to see more of that from him moving forward.
vs Phoenix Suns, February 24 – In one of the more exciting games of the season, the Bulls got revenge on a Suns team that had beaten them soundly in Phoenix the week before with a big 128-121 overtime win at home. In a high-tempo game, Valentine clearly felt at home, drilling five three pointers and coming up big down the stretch to help the Bulls get a comeback win over the Suns on the first night of a back-to-back.
vs Atlanta Hawks, April 1 – In a game the Bulls badly needed for their playoff run, a number of Bulls players rose to the occasion to help beat the Hawks, a team that had beaten the Bulls seven straight times. Valentine gave the Bulls big minutes off the bench, flashing timely three point shooting to help the Bulls stay in the game and giving them solid minutes as a contributor off the bench.