Ryan Arcidiacono dribbles the ball against Kyle Lowry

A look back at Ryan Arcidiacono's 2018-19 season

"I've lived a very fortunate life and I've worked hard to get to this place. Not many people get here, I know that, and I have to cherish every opportunity I have." - Ryan Arcidiacono

Ryan Arcidiacono before Bulls games in the United Center would stretch out and try to take it all in, and it had to be difficult and yet amazing to imagine at times for the long shot with the improving shot.

"I'd lay on the floor with about a minute or two left before we had to stand for the National Anthem and think how fortunate I am to be here in this organization and the opportunity and to play in the NBA," Arcidiacono said in an interview last week. "I've lived a very fortunate life and I've worked hard to get to this place. Not many people get here, I know that, and I have to cherish every opportunity I have."

Arcidiacono's accomplishment perhaps is not on the level of Tiger Woods' Master's golf tournament comeback, but it is an unexpected surprise, nonetheless.

Though a college star with the Villanova 2016 champions and Philadelphia native, the 6-3 Arcidiacono wasn't drafted by an NBA team and spent basically two years in the G-league before playing 81 games for the Bulls this season. That included back to back 22-point games early in the season and an average of 11.6 points on 39 percent three-point shooting in the last eight games with starter Kris Dunn out. Arcidiacono also finished third best in the NBA in assist/turnover ratio.

"People say stuff about you," the likable and always upbeat Arcidiacono said with a smile, "but I think given the opportunity they see I can play and that I have proved some doubters wrong and can play in this league and hopefully for a long time."

Arcidiacono doesn't know his NBA future yet since the Bulls can make him a qualifying offer to become a restricted free agent. But it seems certain after leading the team in the tough man categories the Bulls so much appreciate like games played and charges taken that Arcidiacono has earned himself a place in the NBA and also in the hearts of NBA fans.

"I've lived a very fortunate life and I've worked hard to get to this place. Not many people get here, I know that, and I have to cherish every opportunity I have." - Ryan Arcidiacono

It didn't seem that likely when Arcidiacono was passed over in the draft as a bit too slow and slender. He signed with the San Antonio Spurs for Summer League and played the season in the G-league in Austin. He had decided to play overseas after that, but there were issues with his contact and he ended up signing the Bulls' first two-way contract, spending most of the 2017-18 season in the G-league. He played briefly in 24 games for the Bulls, though primarily in Hoffman Estates where he could be found morning and night at workouts in the Sears Centre.

The work and commitment paid off as he started 32 games for the Bulls this season and worked his way up to third in assists and three-point shooting and leading in charges taken.

"I learned from a personal level I can play in this league and I can impact the games and I think I've taken pride in coming every day and working as hard as I can to be to be the best player I can be," Arcidiacono said. "I feel I was given a solid opportunity and took advantage of it. From a team standpoint, it's been tough because of all the injuries and the record, but we have a great group of young guys. I think it's been a positive year for me and a step in the right direction as a professional.

Ryan Arcidiacono shoots a big three against the San Antonio Spurs

"I'm more comfortable in games since the start of the season with the concepts we are trying to run and the coaching change, getting more and more comfortable with Jim (Boylen) at the helm and feel I played pretty solid the last couple of weeks of the season from a point guard perspective of being able to impact the game," Arcidiacono said. "That's what I try to do when I am out there."

Though Arcidiacono had those pair of 20-some scoring games early in the season amidst an avalanche of injuries that buried the season for the team, he takes pride primarily in the wins and whatever contribution he can make. That has included several instances of defending seven footers in the post and drawing changes by the veteran ruse of stepping back and drawing the offensive player into a traveling call. Arcidiacono is a 25-year-old with an old head.

"I've had games with two or three points where I was able to impact the game in a good way and did the little stuff to help us get a win. Not just the scoring," said Arcidiacono, "As I look back I try to write a little bit about each game, what I remember because there are so many games and what I learned and can learn going forward.

"The most encouraging and prideful I've been all year was that I even made the team," Arcidiacono admitted. "Before the season I didn't even know if I was going to make the team. But I worked my way into the lineup and impacted games and became someone who they can play in games and I can have a solid impact. I take great pride in that. I've been very fortunate with the situation and grateful for the opportunity that's been given to me. I found a home for this year and we'll see what happens.

"It's an accomplishment," Arcidiacono acknowledged, "but something I've been able to do my whole life is stay even keeled and level headed. I don't get too high on the highs and get too low on the lows. I think making the team was an expectation for me. I would have been disappointed if I were cut, but I'm also very grateful and do take great pride in being an NBA player and doing it my way. It hasn't been the easiest route there, but I am an NBA player and I feel as long as I continue to work hard it can happen and I can stick for a long time."

Arcidiacono headed back to Pennsylvania for a few days when the season ended, but he retains his apartment in Chicago and will be ready to get back to work.

"The most encouraging and prideful I've been all year was that I even made the team." - Ryan Arcidiacono

"You have to be very smart with summer workouts because basketball is such a grind and a long season, but I'll be in Chicago," Arcidiacono says. "I love Chicago in the summer time and then we'll figure things out.

"I think I had a solid year shooting the ball, up to 37, 38 percent (on threes)," he points out. "I started off great but need to be a little more consistent throughout the season. I went through a little slump, so I worked on a few moves here and there and being able to get to my spots, being a little more crafty around the rim. I feel I've taken steps in the right direction in finishing around the rim and looking at the basket and making plays for myself and not just my teammates. You have to keep working on little things. I was aggressive in practice and stuff, but my mindset is always to go out there and impact the game the best I can, stay aggressive and if I wanted to be on the floor I had to score a little myself.

"I really don't look ahead that much," Arcidiacono says. "I really try to focus on here and now because you never know where you are going to be next year, what is going to happen. You have to enjoy the process and the grind of getting better and seeing the improvements in the game. I know it might be a cliché of one day at a time, but I truly do take it one day at time and try to be the best player and person I can be."

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The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

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