Chicago Bulls: Give Denzel Valentine one more chance

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bulls and Denzel Valentine have had a rocky relationship since his selection back in 2016. Now, with the former Michigan State Spartan facing down free agency, the new front office should consider extending a qualifying offer to him.

Chicago Bulls fans should follow their new front office executives Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley in combing through the current roster very carefully.

While the Bulls are strapped for cash going into the 2020-2021 season, there are a few players that are eligible to receive a qualifying offer going into the offseason, namely, point guard Kris Dunn and guard/forward Denzel Valentine.

Personally, I’ve written Dunn off because of his lack of production in his offensive game as well as his chemistry (namely lack thereof) with Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen. While his defensive game is admirable, Dunn simply does not fit the style of game the Bulls want going forward.

Valentine, on the other hand, is a bench player who fits in the modern NBA while also being a quasi-throwback in how he approaches the game. The 26-year-old forward has shown the ability to shoot from deep; he also possesses the capability to get into the lane with know-how instead of athleticism and can read the floor better than most current Bulls players on offense.

Valentine’s career started off slow in the brief era of “The Three Alphas“, but he showed out during his sophomore season in 2017-18 by averaging 10.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.2 assists while showing off a 38.6 percentage from three.

(Take a look at his stats per-36 minutes and tell me that isn’t quality offensive production.)

It wasn’t flashy and the defensive awareness was dreadful, but Denzel could get buckets and occasionally throw up a 20-something point game

Fred Hoiberg‘s last full season as head coach of the Bulls saw Valentine appear in 77 games, starting 37 of them.

Just when it looked like Valentine was poised for a breakout, he missed the entire 2018-19 season recovering from reconstructive ankle surgery.

By the time the former Spartan could return to the court, there was a new coach in charge, and a once-hopeful offensive bench piece found himself in new head coach Jim Boylen‘s doghouse.

Boylen didn’t play Valentine unless there was no one else to throw out on the court, and even then showed massive hesitation due to Valentine’s lack of explosiveness.

The situation between Valentine and Boylen was cast into the light in mid-November when the Bulls head coach gave his response to why Valentine was out of the rotation by simply saying “because I said so.”

Boylen continued to say “[Denzel] needs to play and he needs to grow.”

When pressed about which areas Valentine needed to grow in, Boylen said “all areas.”

So far in the 2019-20 season, Valentine has only appeared in 37 games and averaging a career-low in minutes per game (13.6), but again his per-36 minute stats are through the roof.

Granted, Valentine isn’t some superstar that will affect the outcome of every game due to a ridiculous stat line, but he has shown intelligence on a young team with his shot selection, passing and ability to keep up in a faster-paced offense.

Especially with Boylen looking to be on his way out of Chicago once the season resumes, Valentine might be more comfortable with whatever new coach and system the new executives decide to bring in.

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Regardless of how the rest of this NBA season shakes out with the coronavirus hiatus, Karnisovas and Eversley should absolutely give Denzel a qualifying offer. Worst case scenario, he attracts a price tag that is out of reach and you let him go.

Denzel Valentine is a decent bench piece if it is decided that he will move forward with the Bulls, and the team should spend some time doing research on him before pulling the plug.