LAS VEGAS — The Draft settled nothing, of course. That event, as the league sees every July, is merely the first step in shaking out the rookie class. It’s then followed by free-agent decisions and trades (and even retirements in some cases), the way roster moves that seem unrelated to a first-year player can impact the newcomer.
Like Dwyane Wade going home. He plays the same position in Chicago, shooting guard, where the Bulls lottery pick, Denzel Valentine, will probably get most of his time. But the case could be made that Valentine will get more minutes with 34-year-old Wade starting and Jimmy Butler at small forward than under the previous lineup with Butler at shooting guard and Mike Dunleavy small forward.
Wade’s minutes have decreased three seasons in a row, to 30.5 per game last season with the Miami Heat. The more the Bulls think about preserving him for the playoffs, the more of an opportunity Valentine will have to earn a real role. That’s all the more realistic even for a team in win-now mode as a 22-year-old with four seasons at Michigan State and a level of maturity that jumped out during pre-draft interviews with teams. At the very least, Valentine has the mental makeup to step into the moment.
Change is happening before players make it through Summer League, let alone the entire offseason of roster shifts.