The Cavs finally addressed a need with the addition of Denzel Valentine
The Cavs have inked Denzel Valentine to a two-year contract, adding some much-needed depth at the wing position. That is assuming the oft-injured former Chicago Bulls swingman can remain healthy and stay on the floor.
After a breakout campaign during the 2017-18 season where he averaged career-highs nearly across the board with 10.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 41.7 percent shooting from the field (38.6 percent from deep), Valentine lost significant minutes in the Bulls rotation under then-head coach Jim Boylen.
Following numerous injuries, the 14th overall selection of the 2016 NBA Draft saw his playing time drop to just above 15 minutes per game between the past two seasons, averaging under seven points per outing in a primarily off-the-bench role.
What can Denzel Valentine bring to the table for the Cavs?
The 27-year-old former Michigan State Spartan has never been known for his defense but will provide Cleveland with some added firepower on the offensive end.
His 35.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc is a marked improvement over Cavaliers rookie Isaac Okoro, and Turkish forward Cedi Osman (whose three-point shot appears to have completely abandoned him last season).
Apart from his scoring, Valentine is also a decent playmaker from the wing and has proven to be able to set up teammates with open shots whenever the ball is in his hands, helping make the team a little more versatile in this age of ‘positionless’ basketball.
What his addition does not address is the Cavs’ lack of size at the small forward position. Never mind his lack of defensive prowess, Valentine is also only 6’4”, and will be tasked to guard much bigger wing players whenever he is on the floor. Two of the Cavs’ other wings in Okoro and Lamar Stevens, while much better defenders than Valentine, are also below the league average.
The move does address a need and makes the Cavaliers better, but not by leaps. Barring a potential trade, Cleveland is no longer expected to make any significant additions leading up to training camp.