There was considerable chatter in the days leading up to the June NBA draft that the Milwaukee Bucks might select Denzel Valentine.
Which made sense. Valentine, the former Michigan State standout, seemingly would have fit in perfectly with the Bucks.
The 6-foot-6 Valentine is a multi-positional player who could have served as a secondary ballhandler to point guard Giannis Antetokounmpo and he can shoot with range.
The Bucks of course, used the 10th overall pick on 7-foot-1 Thon Maker, an intriguing project who has had his expected good and bad moments in the NBA Summer League in Vegas.
Valentine has also been erratic, but has nevertheless displayed his nifty all-around game, averaging 12 points, six rebounds and two steals a game. Asked how his prized rookie was faring not only in games but practices, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said, “He’s been outstanding.’’
Valentine, who was the 14th overall selection, said he was told that he was on the Bucks’ short list for the 10th pick.
“They said I was in the mix; I was one of the top three,’’ Valentine said.
Some NBA officials contend Valentine might have been chosen earlier, and perhaps taken by the Bucks, if not for his knee issues. Valentine has had knee surgery twice.
Whether the knee concerns hurt Valentine’s draft stock, he doesn’t really care. He is convinced he’s in a good place and has no regrets that he wasn’t chosen sooner.
“You know what, I’m just happy where I’m at,’’ Valentine said. “I’m not going to get into that (the knee issues). They (other NBA teams) can believe what they want to, but I’m healthy and I’m happy.’’
The fact Stacey Augmon is one of the Bucks’ assistant coaches in the summer league isn’t surprising. Augmon has known Bucks coach Jason Kidd since they were prep standouts in California. What’s more, Augmon has a good rapport with Bucks assistant coach Tim Grgurich (Grgurich once coached at UNLV and Augmon was once a star there) and Bucks player personnel director Dave Babcock.
Augmon, who has been an assistant coach at UNLV the last five years, has been working primarily with the Bucks’ perimeter players.
The 47-year-old Augmon, who helped UNLV win the national championship in 1990 and was an assistant coach for George Karl for five seasons in Denver, doesn’t hide the fact he would like to turn his summer gig into a full-time one with the Bucks. They are in the market for an assistant coach after they decided not to retain Josh Oppenheimer, who is now with the Houston Rockets.
“I’m hoping for it; I’m definitely hoping for it,’’ Augmon said of joining the Bucks coaching staff on a full-time basis. “We’ll have to see how the summer goes. We’ll sit down, me and coach Kidd, and see how it goes.’’
The NBA Summer League has grown substantially since its inception in 2004 when six teams comprised the then Reebok Vegas Summer League.
This year, there are 24 teams in the NBA Summer League and attendance has been outstanding for most of the games, which are played in the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion on the UNLV campus.
The league was created by Warren LeGarie and his partner Albert Hall and both are still heavily involved in the event today.
For the basketball die-hard, here are a couple of Vegas Summer League tidbits:
- Anthony Morrow holds the single-game record with 47 points, set in 2009. Anthony Randolph (Golden State, 2009), Von Wafer (Denver, 2007) and Marcus Banks (Phoenix, 2007) each scored 42.
- Malcolm Thomas (Chicago) is the all-time Vegas SL leader for rebounds in a game with 22, set in 2013, and Alan Williams (Philly) is second with 21, set in 2015.
- Marcus Williams (OKC) recorded the most assists in a game with 17 in 2009, with Brandon Jennings (Milwaukee, 2009) second with 14 in 2009. Jennings is also second in steals with seven, just one behind Justin Dentmon (DLS, 2015).
Quick hits: Bucks veteran forward Steve Novak, an unrestricted free agent, doesn’t have any desire to play for anyone but the Bucks. Said Novak: “I truly believe Milwaukee is the best fit for me.’’. … No change on the Greg Monroe front: league sources insist Bucks are still looking to move him. … Former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie attended Wednesday’s Summer Leaague. Hinkie plans to sit out this season and spend more time with his wife and four children before returning the following season. … There has been some chatter the Bucks may be interested in veteran shooting guard Kevin Martin, a free agent. The Bucks looked into acquiring Martin from the Timberwoves before last February’s trade deadline.