Bulls Season Rewind 18-19: Ryan Arcidiacono
Point guard Ryan Arcidiacono turned himself into a true fan favorite in Chicago this season, bringing a brand of gritty, hard-nosed basketball throughout the season and providing a steady presence at point guard for the team, appearing in 81 of the team's 82 games.
Arcidiacono – a college legend and NCAA champion with Villanova – went undrafted in 2016 but never gave up on his dream to play in the NBA. After a season with the Austin Spurs, he appeared in Summer League for the Bulls in the summer of 2017 and caught on with the team last season under a two-way deal, spending the majority of the season with the Windy City Bulls but coming up late in the season to appear in 24 games.
This season, Arcidiacono took the next step and proved he belonged at this level. In addition to being a beloved teammate and always willing to put his body on the line for the team, Arcidiacono was always there to provide a steady hand and make the extra play, often playing the role of sparkplug off the bench. He wound up second on the team in total minutes played, and earned his spot in the league for years to come.
Let's look at some of his best performances of the season:
November 26, vs Spurs (San Antonio 108, Bulls 107)
Arcidiacono Stat Line: 22 points (8-12 FG), 4-6 3PT, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
In an early season matchup against DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge and a veteran Spurs team, the Bulls gave the Spurs all they could handle, led by a career scoring night from Arcidiacono. Archie poured in 22 points on an ultra-efficient 8-12 shooting, including hitting 4 of his 6 attempts from downtown, to go along with 4 rebounds and a pair of assists/steals. Archie almost pulled out the highlight of the season, when, down a point in the final seconds of the game, he stole the Spurs inbounds pass and just barely missed an off-balance jumper that would have won the game.
Even with the loss, the Bulls showed fight in this one and Archie was beginning to show that he could make an impact at the NBA level.
February 23, vs Celtics (Bulls 126, Boston 116)
Arcidiacono Stat Line: 8 points (2-4 FG), 2-3 3PT, 4 assists, 3 rebounds
Sometimes, the stats don't tell the whole story. This game, a huge team win over a Celtics team that had blown the Bulls out at home two months earlier, was close throughout, and despite not leading the team in stat categories, Archie was a key aspect to the Bulls turning an early first half deficit into a 15-point halftime lead. Coach Jim Boylen then turned the keys over to Archie to see the game out and fend off a Celtics rally, as the point guard wound up playing all 12 fourth-quarter minutes – guarding star Kyrie Irving - to close out the win. Boylen ended up giving a lot of credit for the win to the steady presence of Arcidiacono.
"He's just a tough, competitive kid," Boylen said after the game. "He had made shots early in the game and I felt like we were gonna have to make a big shot. When they make their run like that, like they do when Irving starts dominating the game like that, it's hard to turn them off. But we were gonna have to score more and with the way he shot the ball in the first half and the way he had control of the game I thought it was a good sub for us."
November 10, Vs Cavaliers (Bulls 99, Cleveland 98)
Arcidiacono Stat Line: 15 points (6-8 FG), 3-4 3PT, 4 rebounds, 2 assists
In this early season win, the Bulls, on a losing skid and playing shorthanded, saw Archie get his first start of the year in a Saturday night home matchup against the Cavs. Archie got the Bulls engine running, scoring 10 first quarter points to help the Bulls get off to an impressive 37-23 start.
After the Cavs came back into it, Arcidiacono again was involved in some of the biggest plays of the game. Up by a point with the Cavs' prized rookie point guard Collin Sexton holding the ball, Sexton tried to go right at Archie for the winning bucket. Archie held his own space, stayed in front of the athletic rookie and got a piece of the ball as Sexton went up with it. Sexton grabbed the miss and had his final heave swatted away by Jabari Parker to close the game out and get the Bulls an early season win in front of their home crowd.