Denzel Valentine of Michigan State is a 6″5 guard currently in his senior year. Although he will not be considered to compete with the likes of Ben Simmons and Skal Labissiere in the 2016 draft, he will most certainly be a first round pick, and could be the steal of the draft.
Valentine is averaging 18.5 points per, as well as 8 rebounds and 7 assists a game. These stats emphasize his leadership, as he contributes on both ends of the floor. Those stats remind me of Russell Westbrook, who I would describe as a complete point guard.
He’s currently shooting 40% from behind the arc, which is an important trait for a point guard. For his size, he is fast and will be able to outscore his defenders under the basket because of his height. His percentage from 3 has improved significantly since his freshman year, where he made just 28% of his long shots.
His assist count has soared this season with 7 per game, compared to last season where he averaged 4 dimes a game.
Interestingly, Denzel is a senior, it is becoming increasingly uncommon for seniors to get drafted in the first round. In the 1st round of the 2015 NBA draft, only 4 players were drafted as college seniors. Frank Kaminsky, Jerian Grant, Delon Wright and Larry Nance Jr.
In most cases, if the players have the talent, they quit the college system early for a shot at the NBA. Denzel has improved across his 4 years at Michigan, and the experience he has gained makes him NBA ready.
Valentine is from a basketball family, his father Carlton Valentine was head coach for his high school team at J.W Sexton School (Lansing, Michigan). His older brother Drew played college ball at Oakland University, where he is now an assistant.
Aged 22, is Denzel Valentine now ready for the NBA?