On draft night, the Chicago Bulls shocked the entire NBA world as they traded All-Star and franchise player Jimmy Butler plus the No. 16 overall pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for point guard Kris Dunn, shooting guard Zach LaVine, and the seventh overall pick.
The Bulls then proceeded to use the seventh overall pick on forward Lauri Markannen out of the University of Arizona. Although, the selection of Markannen was a solid pick towards the future, the decision to trade Butler for younger assets signaled that Chicago was ready to go into rebuilding mode immediately.
After trading Butler on draft night, the Bulls continued on their path to rebuild by completely overhauling the point guard position. Chicago decided that they were not going to bring back Rajon Rondo and Michael Carter-Williams.
Without Rondo and Carter-Williams, Chicago’s point guard rotation heading into the Las Vegas Summer League consisted of Jerian Grant, Cameron Payne, and the newly acquired Dunn.
However, Dunn nor Payne played well in the summer league. Payne struggled with his jump shot, while Dunn only played in one game before leaving the summer league due to personal reasons. Payne also left due to personal reasons.
Grant, on the other hand, played solid as he averaged 12.7 points, 3.9 assists, and 2.9 rebounds in 25.9 minutes per game. Nevertheless, with the early departures of Dunn and Payne, it opened up the door for other players to step up such as Antonio Blakeney and Ryan Arcidiacono.
The two undrafted guards held down the fort for the Bulls in the summer league and earned themselves two-way contracts. Blakeney was signed to a two-way deal on July 14, while Arcidiacono was signed to a two-way deal on Tuesday.
If you remember, two-way contract players will spend most of their time in the G-League, but could get called up to the NBA.
For both Blakeney and Arcidiacono, their NBA opportunity could come this upcoming season, especially if Chicago’s point guard situation doesn’t round itself out.
But before we can even think that far in advance, let’s take a look at what both guards bring to the table as they complement each other well. For starters, Blakeney is a scoring; combo guard that can fill it up in bunches, in comparison to his counterpart.
In four summer league games, Blakeney averaged 16.7 points and 5.0 rebounds in 26.7 minutes per game. Despite his slender frame, the 6-foot-4, 197-pound undrafted guard out of LSU showed no fear in competing with the trees to grab rebounds.
Offensively, he shot 43.8 percent from the field on 12 attempts per game and shot an outstanding 64.3 percent from three-point range on 3.5 attempts per game. When you watch Blakeney play, one thing you will notice right away is that he is aggressive and loves contact when driving to the lane.
One move Blakeney loves to use when driving to the lane is pulling up for a floater, which he used a lot at LSU.
Along with his willingness to attack the basket, Blakeney has a smooth shooting stroke from three-point range. He never looks rushed when setting up for a three-point shot and that showed in the summer league.
Despite only being a career 34.7 percent three-pointer shooter at LSU, his mechanics are really fluid to be competent three-pointer at the next level.
On the other hand, Arcidiacono is a floor general that has an offensive game but will give tough defense for all 48 minutes. The former Villanova Wildcat played in the summer league last year with the San Antonio Spurs and earned an opportunity with the Austin Spurs.
In 47 games with Austin, Arcidiacono averaged 6.5 points, 3.8 assists, and 3.2 rebounds in 27.5 minutes per game. While his numbers looked pedestrian, Arcidiacono did have an assist percentage of 19.4, but an inflated turnover percentage of 23.
In this year’s edition of the summer league, the diminutive point guard out of Villanova played better as he lowered his turnover percentage to 18.38 and had a 19.4 assist percentage.
With these two new additions in backcourt, it should help out Windy City a lot as the team definitely needs some scoring punch with 2017 G League All-Star Alfonzo McKinnie now with the Toronto Raptors.
However, even without McKinnie, the Bulls are in great shape as they will have a scorer in Blakeney and a defensive-minded point guard in Arcidiacono leading the charge.