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Creating a Short List of NBA Teams for Michigan State's Denzel Valentine

Experts have Denzel Valentine going as early as 8th and as late as 21st, so I decided to take an investigative look at which teams might take the talented former Spartan in an effort to create a short list.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

After combing through some mock drafts recently, I realized that the range for where Denzel Valentine could be picked in Brooklyn on June 23rd is a wide one. Experts have him going as early as 8th and as late as 21st, so I decided to take an investigative look at which teams might take the talented former Spartan in an effort to create a short list.

First, I looked at where the mock drafts have him ending up just to get a baseline of where he is projected to be picked.

CBS Sports (Gary Parrish)- Pick 8, Sacramento Kings

Sports Illustrated (Andrew Sharp)- Pick 16, Boston Celtics

USA Today (Derek Bodner)- Pick 16, Boston Celtics

Bleacher Report (Jonathan Wasserman)- Pick 18, Detroit Pistons

ESPN (Chad Ford)- Pick 18, Detroit Pistons

Hoops Hype- Pick 18, Detroit Pistons

Draft Express- Pick 20, Indiana Pacers

NBADraft.net- Pick 21, Atlanta Hawks

Next, I took a look at every team in that 8-21 range on the basis of two metrics:

1) Need for a player like Valentine: This means if a given team has a need for a shooting guard or someone who can space the floor with shooting at a guard/wing position.

2) Likely to draft a player like Valentine: I took a look at draft history by GMs and teams to see whether or not they have a successful history of drafting older, more developed players. On the other hand, if teams are investing in young talent with the goal of making playoff pushes years from now, then they are more likely to take a young prospect so I took that into consideration as well.

Sacramento Kings (#8)

Need for a player like Valentine? Yes

Likely to draft a player like Valentine? Yes

The Kings didn't take too many shots from deep last season. This was largely because they didn't many players who can space the floor like Valentine. Their past two selections in the top 10 of the NBA Draft were Nik Stauskas and Willie Cauley-Stein so they clearly have no reservations about taking an older player early in the NBA Draft.

Toronto Raptors (#9)

Need for a player like Valentine? Yes

Likely to draft a player like Valentine? Yes

The Raptors definitely have a need at the shooting guard position if DeMar Derozan decides not to return. General manager Masai Ujiri has made it clear he wants to win now and took Utah senior Delon Wright in the draft last year at pick 20. Valentine could be a good fit here if Ujiri doesn't plan on solving his potential shooting guard issues in free agency.

Milwaukee Bucks (#10)

Need for a player like Valentine? Yes

Likely to draft a player like Valentine? No

While the Bucks definitely could use a shooter, I have a feeling they may think they have one in the near future with Rashad Vaughn. They selected him in the first round last year and despite a lack of immediate contribution from Vaughn, I think they recognized he could be a project. For this reason, I don't see them taking Valentine at 10th overall considering their other team needs and the fact that they have to give the Vaughn experiment due time.

Orlando Magic (#11)

Need for a player like Valentine? No

Likely to draft a player like Valentine? No

Orlando has a recent history of drafting younger guys they can develop in their own system. They are also a few years away from really competing unless they can get Dwight Howard in free agency, so bringing in a collegiate veteran like Valentine wouldn't make a lot of sense here.

Utah Jazz (#12)

Need for a player like Valentine? No

Likely to draft a player like Valentine? No

Rodney Hood seems like the long term solution for the Jazz at shooting guard, and Gordon Hayward certainly is not going anywhere at small forward. There has been an influx of young talent lately in the Jazz organization and I would expect them to just add to that stable of youth they can develop with one of the more high potential guys projected to be drafted around the same time as Valentine.

Phoenix Suns (#13)

Need for a player like Valentine? No

Likely to draft a player like Valentine? Yes

Much like the Jazz, the Suns have a lot of youth and will probably add to it in the draft. Even though they do tend to draft established college guys like TJ Warren and Devin Booker, both those guys were still young at the time they were drafted. Not to mention the Suns backcourt appears to be one built for the future and pretty intact.

Chicago Bulls (#14)

Need for a player like Valentine? No

Likely to draft a player like Valentine? Yes

The Bulls draft a lot of college guys historically, but after the success of Nikola Mirotic I wouldn't be shocked if they grab another player from overseas. They also have a franchise shooting guard in Jimmy Butler. It has been speculated that he could leave, but with Tony Snell and Doug McDermott also currently residing in Chicago, Valentine wouldn't be a great addition.

Denver Nuggets (#15, 19)

Need for a player like Valentine? Yes

Likely to draft a player like Valentine? No

The Nuggets had great success in last years draft and are building for a bright future. Unfortunately, I am not sure if that future will be one that includes Denzel Valentine. Even though he would be a solid backup shooting guard behind fellow Spartan alum, Garry Harris, I think the Nuggets are much more likely to take a player who is more high risk, but high reward. That said, Denver will likely have two picks where Valentine will be on the board so it wouldn't shock me if they saw value in adding his shooting touch.

Boston Celtics (#16)

Need for a player like Valentine? Yes

Likely to draft a player like Valentine? Yes

The Celtics seem like a great fit for Valentine. Despite having a crowded backcourt, it is unclear how many of those pieces will still be in place come next season and few players on the current roster shoot the ball from deep at a passable rate. GM Danny Ainge values experience and Brad Stevens could have a lot of fun working Denzel Valentine into his offense if this marriage happens.

Memphis Grizzlies (#17)

Need for a player like Valentine? Yes

Likely to draft a player like Valentine? Yes

Vince Carter and Tony Allen can only play for so many more years. The Grizzlies still feel like a team built to win now, but getting older by the second. How they handle this draft will be very telling about how they view their near future. They could look to add youth and start the rebuild now, unloading assets like Mike Conley and Zach Randolph while they still hold value. Or they could decide to take the win-now mentality and draft a player who can help immediately (i.e. Denzel Valentine).

Detroit Pistons (#18)

Need for a player like Valentine? Yes

Likely to draft a player like Valentine? No

As much as most Michigan State fans would probably love for Valentine to remain in the state, I am not sure how likely that scenario is. While they have a need for a shooter, I think they have a need for a backup big man a little more. There is no question the Pistons are ready to win now after making the playoffs last season for the first time in a while. The Pistons have a recent history of taking guys who proved their potential after a year or two in college, but were still young when they got drafted (Knight, Drummond, Caldwell-Pope, Johnson). It is important to mention there is new management so those trends could change, but the formula has proved successful to this point.

Indiana Pacers (#20)

Need for a player like Valentine? No

Likely to draft a player like Valentine? Yes

The Pacers draft a lot of college guys with quite a bit of success, but the road block here is team need. I believe Indiana will either look to get a young ball handler or big man to compliment Myles Turner for a young, formidable frontcourt.

Atlanta Hawks (#21)

Need for a player like Valentine? No

Likely to draft a player like Valentine? Yes

As a regular playoff contender, the Hawks have added experienced college players through drafts for immediate contribution. Valentine fits the bill in that regard, but sadly Atlanta has little need for shooting with Kyle Korver already there. If Valentine fell all the way to pick 21, however, he could make it hard for the Hawks to pass on him.

Short List

After analyzing all the teams in Valentine's projected draft range, I was able to create a shortlist of teams that he would fit nicely on. It is important to mention that some teams could easily decide to take the best available player rather than fill a team need as well as break drafting trends from the past. I am merely trying to do my best at making a short list of teams that seem like the most likely fits for Denzel Valentine in the NBA, so here it is...

Sacramento Kings- Pick #8

Toronto Raptors- Pick #9

Boston Celtics- Pick #16

Memphis Grizzlies- Pick #17

Detroit Pistons- Pick #18 (even though Detroit didn't perfectly meet my criteria, I am adding them to the short list because if the hometown hero is still available at pick #18 he would be incredibly hard to avoid drafting)