2016 NBA Draft: Denzel Valentine scouting report
Denzel Valentine 2016 NBA Draft scouting report
Denzel Valentine scouting report
Denzel Valentine, a senior guard from Michigan State, has an impeccable blend of instincts, passing vision, and shooting ability. The AP Player of the Year averaged a near triple double with 19.2 points, 7.8 assists, and 7.5 rebounds. What he lacks in athleticism he makes up for in virtually every other category. He could end up being the steal of the draft if he lands in the right situation.
Click through the slides for Valentine's strengths, weaknesses, and his fit on the Celtics.
Valentine summed up his versatile skills on offense best at the NBA Combine in Chicago: “I kind of see myself as just a basketball player. You put me out there at point guard, I’ll make plays for other people. But if you need me to be out on the wing, make decisions off the pass without bringing the ball up the court, I’ll do that. And if you want me to catch-and-shoot in the corner, I can do that as well.”
Valentine hit 44.4 percent of his threes last season, despite opponents focusing their defensive attention on him. As he described, he’s capable of making plays off the dribble. He’s a technician as a passer and understands how to use different speeds.
There are better athletes in the draft. There are players with higher upside. But few have Valentine’s intangibles. That alone gives him the upside to greatly exceed expectations.
Valentine is a limited athlete, which mostly hurts him on the defensive end of the floor. He had trouble staying in front of ball handlers, and tended to get overmatched against larger players. At 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, Valentine should have defensive versatility, but he didn’t really display it in college.
Despite having so much skill on offense, Valentine’s lack of foot speed limits him as a shot creator in the half court. He’ll probably need a screen to get open and it’s unlikely he becomes a player that can create in isolation situations. That isn’t a red flag, but it puts a cap on his eventual upside.
Valentine accurately compares himself to Evan Turner because of his versatility. With the ability to facilitate or score creatively from mid-range, the comparison works. But Valentine offers significantly more as a shooter and would help the Celtics’ spacing from Day One.
Turner didn’t enter the NBA touted as a defender, but he developed into one with the Celtics. Valentine expects a similar level of development, saying he has the ingredients to improve because he’s “tough as nails” and has “the will to win.” Those comments are true, but it doesn’t guarantee a level of improvement.
Valentine reportedly is at risk of a knee trouble, which has hurt his draft status, according to Basketball Insiders, so he could slip all the way into the second round where the Celtics have five draft picks. Valentine has lottery level talent, so he could be a major value pick late in the draft.
Kevin O’Connor can be followed on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA.