Denzel Valentine (Senior, Michigan State)
Shooting Guard-Small Forward/6’5/210/Age: 22
Product of…Sexton HS (Lansing, MI)
19.2 points/game, 7.8 assists/game, 7.5 rebounds/game
Denzel Valentine: AP National Player of the Year. Ahh, returning to Sparty for his senior year was the best decision he could have made. In a single year, Valentine went from possible second-rounder to likely lottery/mid-first rounder.
A versatile swingman addicted to triple-doubles, Valentine’s averages were aided by excellent leadership, timely scoring and a total command of possessions. His teammates viewed him as a “guiding light” and he responded by setting the tone with a workmanlike approach each game.
His NBA role is a little iffy but if Valentine has the rock, he’s a pseudo-Evan Turner. And when he doesn’t, his silky outside J makes him a decent scorer at the two. Future Star UnderDOG status is in Valentine’s crystal ball.
NBA Skills: Shot-creating, versatility
-Versatile shot creator – reads action out of the PnR, can initiate sets and find teammates for clean looks (avg. nearly 8 dimes/night as a SR.); knows where to throw passes (in shooting pockets) and in which situation to do so
-Confident shooter & scorer; developed into a nice post-up threat last year; very good from long range – can score spotting up and coming off curls (44%)
-Intangibles: will to win, work ethic, and poise are valued traits; does whatever it takes to get the job done; very experienced: went from an adaptable role player to star during 4 years at State – can step into a rotation tomorrow and contribute in some capacity (distributing, defense)
-Not the greatest athlete; does not have elite foot speed, could struggle to defend guys one-on-one; won’t explode to the cup or finish over the top of defenders
-Struggles to get by superior athletes; will his shot creating take a hit going against elite-level talent night in and night out?; needs to develop a couple go-to moves off the dribble
-Tweener – is he a two or three at the next level; small three man but lacks explosiveness at the two; will need to rely on high outside shooting percentages and excellent team D to earn minutes
NBA DOG Status: Star UnderDOG
Denzel Valentine has experience, is adaptable and brings a winning mentality to any lineup. He won’t be a high lottery selection given his lack of elite athleticism and concerns about his upside but borderline playoff teams/postseason contenders like Chicago, Boston & Memphis seem like a realistic possibility.
One of the most NBA-ready rooks, Valentine is an immediate contributor with a chance to carve out a niche role as a wing shot creator & defender. And in a few years, he could easily be looked backed on as another overlooked draft prospect who didn’t fit typical, “NBA standards.”
NBA Comparison: Evan Turner