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MSU’s Valentine to Pistons? ‘I’d like that’

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Denzel Valentine runs at the NBA draft combine last month in Chicago.

It’s been a long ride toward the NBA draft for former Michigan State standout Denzel Valentine, but it’s almost finished.

Valentine, the AP and NABC national player of the year, is prepping for Thursday’s draft with many of the ceremonial and promotional events in New York. He was one of a select group of players invited to be in the green room at Barclays Center.

Since the end of the Spartans’ season, Valentine was projected to be a lottery pick, but his stock has slipped some in recent weeks, as rumors about the health of his knees has given some teams pause.

But Valentine is pushing aside all the talk and moving forward toward fulfilling his dream of being drafted.

“Everybody has their own opinion but I played my four years and missed only four games,” Valentine said on WMGC’s “Ryan and Rico Show” on Wednesday morning. “I know that I’m healthy and medically cleared to go, by multiple doctors.”

Some mock drafts have Valentine falling to the Pistons at No. 18 — which could fill their need at backup point guard — and could provide them with a versatile wing and ball handler from a non-traditional position, such as the Cavaliers with LeBron James or the Warriors with Draymond Green.

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The prospect of playing for the Pistons appealed to Valentine, but it also would mean that he fell a few spots lower than projected by most analysts.

“It’s home, so it’d be cool,” Valentine said. “I’ve watched the Pistons play all throughout my life and growing up, and watched them win a championship. I wasn’t a Pistons fan actually but I respect everything they did.

“It wouldn’t be too bad to play for the Pistons; I’d like that.”

Valentine met with the Pistons during the draft combine last month in Chicago but didn’t have a workout, which could signal that his agent predicts he would go higher than 18th.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard