4. Denzel Valentine, SG, Michigan State
Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine is our first non-point guard prospect who could carve out a significant role for himself in the NBA as a playmaker. The 22-year old is best suited to play shooting guard at the next level, but did spend a significant amount of time as the Spartans’ point guard with the ball in his hands and is more than capable of running an offense. The results for the Spartans were impressive.
Valentine posted one of the highest usage rates in the country at 28.9 percent, but also finished second in assist rate, dishing out a dime on 45.8 percent of made baskets when he was on the floor. He also averaged 9.4 assists per 40 minutes, which is the second highest mark among all 2016 prospects who played in college last season.
Valentine lacks the lateral quickness to defend NBA-quality point guards, but he has some upside as a role-playing shooting guard who can command the offense of the second unit against opposing guards coming off the bench who don’t possess the same explosiveness of many of the league’s starters. As a player with a high basketball IQ and excellent court vision, he should find a nice niche in the NBA as a playmaker in the right system.
To read more about Denzel Valentine, click here.
Next: 3. Ben Simmons