It's hard for an NBA rookie to make a big first impression in the summer league.
After all, many players taking part are either rookies, fringe roster guys, D-League reserves or overseas-bound journeyman. It's even harder when you're actually playing on the best summer league team we saw this year in the Chicago Bulls. Between Bobby Portis, Jerian Grant, Spencer Dinwiddie and Cristiano Felicio, that's four guys who've either started NBA games or will do so in 2016-17.
But while they may be solid players, Denzel Valentine was a star for the Bulls in the summer league. That much was on full display Monday night during the 2016 Las Vegas Summer League Championship between the Timberwolves and Bulls.
After Tyus Jones drilled a go-ahead three-pointer with less 3.6 seconds left in regulation, Valentine responded by draining his own deep ball, sending the game to overtime.
What made that shot even more amazing was Valentine being scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting through three quarters, but as is the case with any good shooter, they'll miss five shots and know they'll hit the next five. In this case, it was two for Valentine, both being the difference for Chicago.
"I’m here for a reason," Valentine told the Chicago Tribune. "The Bulls picked me up to be a confident player and come through when the team needs me and be a winner. That’s what I preached during my draft interviews. I just keep winning on my mind."
It was tied again in the final seconds of OT after Xavier Silas banked in a three with 11.7 seconds remaining, but Valentine would answer once more to win the game and the title for Chicago.
"From the moment we saw him, the moment he came to work out for us, he’s a confident kid," said Bulls assistant Pete Myers. "He’s not afraid of the moment or the situation."
Yeah, that Valentine fellow is pretty good at this basketball thing.