The Chicago Bulls were more excited about Denzel Valentine than just about every other team with a lottery pick in this summer’s NBA Draft. So, they selected him with the 14th overall pick, controversially bestowed jersey #45 on him, which was a pretty heavy decision considering Michael Jordan wore #45 the first time he came out of retirement. It’s long been thought that the jersey numbers #23 and #45 would never be worn again, given their association with Jordan’s legacy, but not since Derrick Rose has the Bulls franchise been this excited about a first-round draft pick. They’re going all out.
That said, it’s only the Summer League, but Valentine is making good on Chicago’s investment in him. Last night, squaring off against an exciting Minnesota Timberwolves squad and Summer League MVP Tyus Jones, Valentine avenged a shaky start with a pair of eye-popping buzzer-beaters. One would force overtime following a Steph Curry-esque Tyus Jones three-pointer with mere seconds left in regulation, and the other was a dazzling, dizzying turnaround fallaway jumper that would give the Bulls the Summer League title.
Despite the loss of Pau Gasol, the acquisition of Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade immediately makes the Bulls one of the teams to beat in the Eastern Conference. If Valentine keeps this up, they’ll only become more dangerous.