It wasn’t “The Shot”, it wasn’t LeBron James coming out of nowhere to block Andre Iguodala, it wasn’t Derrick Rose hitting a backboard three over Tristian Thompson. No, it didn’t have any of the same meaning or connotation as any of those plays.
However, it was something.
Newest Chicago Bulls draftee Denzel Valentine hit a game winning shot last night to win the Summer League championship against the Minnesota Timberwolves (that that Thibs!(please come back. Please?)) to keep the Bulls undefeated in Summer League play at 7-0. Here’s the shot:
— NBA (@NBA) July 19, 2016
Not only did Valentine hit the game winner, he reportedly asked for the shot after the Timberwolves tied the game up.
Valentine: "As soon as they tied it up, I went over to asst. coach Charlie (Henry) and said, ‘Give me the ball. I’m going to win this game.’
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) July 19, 2016
Give the kid some credit: though it’s not nearly as high of stakes as even a regular season game, he’s got some stones to specifically ask for the ball. Denzel was the big fish at Michigan State last season and during much of his career there under Tom Izzo.
Coming into the season, Valentine faces an uphill battle for playing time. He’s already behind Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Doug McDermott in the 2/3 role, and it remains to be seen what Hoiberg will do with swingman Tony Snell. In addition, Jerian Grant has some value as a small ball 2. Valentine isn’t a strong defender in college, and didn’t look like one at all during Summer League. It doesn’t help that most coaches run around a 9 or 10 man rotation, and the following are virtually guaranteed to get some type of playing time: Rajon Rondo, Grant, Butler, Wade, McDermott, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mitotic, Bobby Portis and Robin Lopez.
However, if Valentine shows the ability to hit clutch shots and make big plays, he might just force his way onto the floor. He’s off to a solid start already. Let’s see if he can keep it up.