It was a very balanced offensive effort for the Chicago Bulls in their 112-94 win against the Orlando Magic. The Bulls were on fire from the field, hitting 44 of their 88 attempts for an outstanding 50%. Meanwhile the Magic (missing a couple of their better offensive players) were dreadful shooting the ball, hitting 39% from the field and a mere 18.5% from three. Despite 18 points from Vucevic, the Magic looked absolutely lost offensively and there lack of firepower was also a factor in why this game got out of hand so early.
For the victors, the one performance which stood out the most was Denzel Valentine’s. The Michigan State product led Chicago in scoring tonight with 16 points, hitting 3 three-pointers in the process. He also notched a double-double by grabbing 10 boards, and also added 5 assists to make it a complete offensive game from the second year man.
In this game Valentine showed his ability to create off the bounce as well as being a constant threat from the three-point line.
(0:00- 0:08) The main action of this sequence is between Dunn and Markkanen starting on the right side of the court. The big man runs towards Dunn and looks like he’s going to be setting a screen on his left side. Dunn chooses to use the screener as a decoy and drives to the basket. Elfrid Payton, who is guarding Dunn shifted to his right in an effort to stop him from using the screen and hence created a driving lane for Dunn to use. By getting to the lane, Dunn now has forced the Magic defense to rotate over and it creates some confusion in terms of switching.
Nikola Vucevic steps over to Dunn with Jonathan Simmons coming down from the left corner to help on his man in Robin Lopez. Meanwhile, Justin Holiday is situated in the corner with Valentine running towards that same corner. As Dunn is driving, Holiday moves to the top of the three-point line with Valentine taking his spot. As soon as Valentine reaches the corner, Dunn fires a pass over to Holiday and forces Wesley Iwundu, who is guarding Valentine, to spring over to wide open shooter at the top of the three-point line. By Iwundu coming over to help on Holiday, he inadvertently switched with Simmons, who was initially guarding him. After the initial kick out pass, it was a simple swing pass from Holiday to the corner and with Simmons contesting late, it was an easy three-pointer for Valentine.
Denzel cross on SImmons and feeds Lopez. pic.twitter.com/xaaKhS8ynq— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD2_) December 21, 2017
Now this play is all Valentine. This takes place in the other corner and with him being isolated against Simmons. Valentine starts with a little jab step to his right and then takes a big first dribble to his left. Anticipating that Valentine will continue to move left, Simmons slides with Valentine and takes an extra step to stop the drive. However, the extra step played right into Valentine’s hand. As soon as the second dribble to the left was made, Valentine crossed over the ball to his right and caught Simmons off guard in the process. With his man shifted on the left it created space on the right baseline for Valentine to drive, which is exactly what he did. Valentine’s drive forced Vucevic to rotate over into the restricted area and help. By doing so, it left Lopez wide open in the lane. All it took as a simple pass to his left from Valentine and he easily found the big man, who then shot a pretty teardrop shot for the basket.
It’s been a tough season for Valentine thus far. Despite seeing an uptick in minutes and points, he’s mainly been a negative on the court for Chicago. He’s also seen his late game minutes being taken away from him and deservedly given to David Nwaba.
But it doesn’t mean he still hasn’t shown some promise of being a decent NBA player, and he’s still extremely confident: even calling his team “one of the best in the East” following this win. Delusions aside, the contest did serve as a good reminder of what Valentine can be offensively. A guy who can handle the ball, make plays for others, and be a very viable threat from downtown.