Valentine finally getting a chance to show his value to Bulls
Denzel Valentine was a little late to the party this season, but he's making a positive impact for the Bulls, technical fouls aside.
Valentine was ejected from Friday's loss to Golden State after two technical fouls. Both involved trash talk with an opponent.
Before heading to the locker room, though, Valentine scored 11 points in 14 minutes, hitting 3 of 4 shots from 3-point land against the Warriors.
The 6-6 swingman hasn't played enough to provide a big sample size, but the numbers are in his favor. During the past seven games, Valentine leads the Bulls in net rating at plus-5.8. The only other regular with a positive net rating in that time frame is Zach Lavine with plus-0.2.
For those unfamiliar, a player's offensive rating is how many points his team scores per 100 possessions while he's on the floor. Defensive rating is how many points the other team scores per 100 and the net rating is the difference between the two.
"I think he's been good," coach Jim Boylen said Saturday at the Advocate Center. "I want him to take good shots and I want him to defend and rebound. In general -- for our team, but for him too -- the mid-clock, off the dribble, contested 2s are not what we're looking for. I ask him to stay away from those, he's good about it, but shoot those 3-balls all day long."
It was a bit of a mystery why Valentine wasn't in the rotation when the season began. Boylen never explained it besides saying it was a coaching decision. But it is true Valentine missed all of last season recovering from ankle surgery, didn't resume full activity until early September, and was getting days off during training camp to make sure he recovered properly.
Now Valentine has shown he deserves playing time, even when small forwards Chandler Hutchison and Otto Porter return from injuries.
"That's not up to me," Valentine said after Friday's game. "I'm just going to do what I can do to help the team and that's come in, play hard, play with passion, play on both sides of the ball."
The Bulls certainly need more 3-point shooters and Valentine leads the team at 44.4 percent.
Boylen launches Dunn campaign:
This one is probably a longshot, but coach Jim Boylen suggested Kris Dunn for the NBA all-defenive team. Dunn is currently fifth in the league in steals per game with 2.0.
"I think he's an all-defensive player," Boylen said. "He changes games with his ability to guard the ball. The thing I like about it too, it's nice for your team when you have a reference point of how it's supposed to look. When you have a reference point of what you're looking for and somebody executes it and you can show it on film."
Busy week begins:
The Bulls will play five games in seven days this week. It starts with back-to-back games at Miami and home against Toronto. Then they'll have back-to-back home games against Charlotte and the Clippers next weekend.
With Otto Porter (foot) definitely out and Chandler Hutchison (shoulder) likely shelved for a few more games, coach Jim Boylen said the Bulls probably won't bring back two-way player Max Strus, who is currently in California with the Windy City Bulls. Boylen suggested he'll continue to use Shaq Harrison to fill in at small forward when needed.
Bulls game dayBulls vs. Miami Heat, Sunday 5 p.m. at American Airlines Arena
TV: NBCSCH; Radio: WSCR 670-AM
Outlook: Life with Jimmy Butler has gone well for Miami so far. The Heat (16-6) was third in the East as of Saturday morning. ... Butler has posted triple-doubles in two of the last three games. On the season, he's averaging 20.5 points, 6.8 assists and 6.3 steals. Chicago native Kendrick Nunn is averaging 15.2 points, while C Bam Adebayo is contributing 14.3 points and 10.4 rebounds. PG Goran Dragic is out with a groin injury. ... Miami beat the Bulls 116-108 at the UC on Nov. 22 behind Butler's 27 points. The Heat led that game 34-16 after the first quarter.
Next: Toronto Raptors on Monday 7 p.m. at the United Center
-- Mike McGraw