Chicago Bulls select Denzel Valentine in NBA Draft

The Bulls added some much needed wing depth in Thursday night’s NBA draft by taking Denzel Valentine with the 14th overall pick.

Valentine is a 6-foot-6-inch guard out of Michigan State, who played there for four seasons. In his senior season, he proved how well-rounded of a player he is by averaging 19.2 points 7.5 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.0 steal. He also helped lead the Spartans to the first round of the NCAA Tournament and was named the Associated Press Player of the Year, the Big Ten Player of the Year and the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year.

With Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy and Doug McDermott really being the Bulls’ only wing options, Valentine could find himself playing meaningful minutes this upcoming season. Plus, he is experienced with four seasons of college ball under his belt, and his 6-foot-10.75-inch wingspan will come in handy on the defensive end.

Valentine is a proven passer, too, as his assist numbers suggest. That being said, he could be a nice complement alongside Butler. In fact, Valentine addressed just that as mentioned in a Chicago Tribune article by Bulls beat writer K.C. Johnson:

“I think I’d fit good,” Valentine said. “I could play the off guard or I could get on the wing or feed Jimmy Butler and have him score and play off him. I’m pretty good at adjusting.”

Butler was mentioned in trade talks with the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves, as the Bulls attempted to acquire Providence point guard Kris Dunn, but neither deal could be done, and the Bulls drafted who is said to be their second choice:

As nice of an addition Valentine seems, though, concerns about his knees have been brought up.

During a December 2015 practice, Valentine suffered a knee injury that required him to have arthroscopic surgery in order to repair cartilage in his left knee. He missed four games because of it. In high school, he had a football injury that required knee surgery. Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal wrote an article about Valentine’s supposed knee problems:

In 2009, Valentine had surgery to repair cartilage that slipped or had been knock off the bone. Osteochondritis dissecans it’s called.

Dr. Julie Dodds, a renowned East Lansing orthopedic surgeon, performed the procedure, putting the cartilage back in place with a couple of screws. Two months later, she removed the screws once the cartilage had “healed down very nicely,” she said. A year later, an MRI scan showed the same thing. The knee was fine.

Valentine, however, has continued to assure everyone that he’s healthy.

Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.