Bulls Season Rewind 17-18: Antonio Blakeney
Antonio Blakeney Season Averages:
|Windy City Bulls||32||32.0||6.6||5.8|
Antonio Blakeney went undrafted after two seasons at LSU in this past summer’s NBA Draft, but he scratched and clawed his way onto the Bulls roster and proved he belonged. After a strong showing with the Bulls Summer League squad in July, Blakeney was invited to camp and ultimately designated one of the Bulls two-way player contracts, in which he would spend much of the season playing with the G-League’s Windy City Bulls and being called up when needed to the ‘big’ club.
Blakeney’s performance made more than a few teams likely regret not taking a draft flyer on him, as he showed himself to be an NBA-level scorer and was a dominant player in the G-League. Blakeney was named the G-League Rookie of the Year, Second Team All-NBA G-League, and a G League All Star for his contributions in Windy City, which saw him average an absurd 32 points per game on 46% shooting from the field.
He did flash that scoring touch in his time with the NBA Bulls, scoring in double digits in 7 of the 19 games he played for the club before his season was cut short in March due to a broken wrist. For the Windy City Bulls, Blakeney scored 40+ points seven times as well – for the purposes of this season rewind, we’ll focus on just his play with the big league team, but trust us when we say his Windy City highlights are worth looking up.
November 21, AT LA Lakers (Lakers 103, Bulls 94)
Blakeney saw himself get some early minutes this season with the big league club with the Bulls reeling from some early injuries. Coach Hoiberg’s staff gave Blakeney some minutes on this night in LA to see what they had in the undrafted rookie, and did he ever step up under the bright lights.
Blakeney had himself a solid game off the bench to prove he could hang on this level as he scored 15 points in 17 minutes off the bench, but perhaps most memorably, Blakeney threw down an absolute monster of a dunk that caused Stacey King to lose his mind on the call and Bulls fans watching to jump out of their seats. It was a great introduction to the athleticism and aggressiveness of Blakeney’s game.
Blakeney Stat Line: 15 points (6-12 FG), 2 rebounds, 1 assist
March 15, AT Memphis Grizzlies (Bulls 111, Grizzlies 110)
In a back and forth game between two banged up teams, Antonio Blakeney saw himself in a position unfamiliar to many players on G-League, two-way contracts: with the ball in his hands and a chance to win the game.
The Bulls roster was absolutely decimated by injuries at this point in the game – though both Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn played, they both had injuries flare up that caused them to sit the rest of this game (neither would play again for the rest of the season, in fact). So, with the Bulls trailing by a point and with the ball as time was running out, Blakeney was the man who found himself dribbling the rock and squaring up with Grizzlies veteran Tyreke Evans.
Blakeney pulled up off the dribble for a quick three and was able to draw contact from the defending Evans, drawing three free throws with exactly one second left. Blakeney hit two of the three foul shots to give the Bulls the road win and was mobbed by his teammates after the game. It’s not often an undrafted rookie finds the ball in his hands with an NBA game on the line, and it’s even rarer that he comes through in the clutch, but come through he did on this night.
Blakeney Stat Line: 10 points (2-7 FG), 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal
March 11, AT Atlanta Hawks (Bulls 129, Hawks 122)
In a high scoring affair in Atlanta, every bucket was important, and Blakeney took to the floor and managed to get buckets right as the team needed him. He was an efficient 6-9 from the field for 14 points in 18 minutes off the bench, helping the team outlast a hot-shooting Hawks club on the road.
Blakeney Stat Line: 14 points (6-9 FG), 2-3 3PT, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal