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Denzel Valentine says he knows exactly what kind of player he is

LAS VEGAS — Coach Fred Hoiberg has no idea who his starting point guard will be once the season starts.

“Honestly, I don’t know,’’ Hoiberg said. “The three we have on our roster right now with Jerian [Grant], who had a really good three days [of minicamp], Cam [Payne] was excellent in the three days and then obviously didn’t have his best night [Saturday in his Summer League debut], and then Kris [Dunn] coming in, who we’re all still trying to get to know a little bit. We’ve all watched film from his clips in Minnesota.

“But it’s open competition. I’m excited about seeing these guys go out and who will deserve that playing time.’’

Second-year player Denzel Valentine knows it won’t be him, and that’s a good thing.

Last year in the Summer League, Valentine — then a first-round pick out of Michigan State — was getting work at the position.

By the middle of the season, his role morphed into a three-point specialist, the outlet guy when Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade or Rajon Rondo would drive to the rim.

While the Bulls have been trying to find a role for Valentine, he is confident he can play an integral part moving forward.

“Yeah, that’s definitely I think one of my goals is to playmake a little bit, get back to what I was doing in college and a little bit in the Summer League last year, but yeah, I think that’s the idea, to playmake a little bit, but also to be that all-around player that’s on the floor,’’ Valentine said. “I know what I am. Just depending on what team you’re on and who you have on your team, what role you play in. That wasn’t my role last year, but I think the opportunity is going to come up where I can increase my role now. It’s up to me now. I’ve got the opportunity. I just gotta take advantage of it.’’

Hoiberg’s offense works in Valentine’s favor. The third-year coach wants to play with pace, so that means any of the guards or wings who grab a rebound are asked to push the ball up the floor and initiate the offense.

The days of seeking out Derrick Rose and then Rondo after a rebound are over. Both of those veterans all but demanded that the ball be put in their hands to start a break.

“That’s what I kind of like about his offense too is that pretty much everybody touches the ball if you do it the right way,’’ Valentine said. “Everybody is playing together, making plays for one another, and trying to get the best shot.’’

High praise

Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau spent one year coaching Zach LaVine and raves about his work ethic.

“He’s going to be terrific,’’ Thibodeau said. “He’s a great worker. He puts a lot into it. I’m sure the people in Chicago already recognize that and see that.

“When you look at what Zach has done as a 22-year-old player, it’s very impressive. He has made great strides each year. And he’ll continue to make strides because of the way he approaches things.’’

LaVine was acquired in the Butler trade.


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