For a time in the mid-2010s, Villanova was effectively the City of Brotherly Love’s most successful franchise.
With a smooth-dressing head coach on the sidelines and a pipeline of impressive recruits willing to stick around for a few years in the era of “one-and-done,” the Wildcats won two national championships in three years and watched a collection of 15 or so players become cult heroes on the Main Line and beyond.
It almost happened once, when Brett Brown drafted archetypal modern-day 3-and-D wing Mikal Bridges with the 10th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, only for the (thankfully) interim GM to trade him away to the Pheonix Suns for a package centered around the draft rights to Zhaire Smith and the Miami Heat’ 2021 unprotected first-round pick.
Will fans in the 215 ever get over said down under betrail? Probably not, but hey, with Bridges, and the next best thing, Jalen Brunson, surly unavailable anytime soon, why not go out and secure the next next best thing? That’s right; we’re talking about arguably Mr. Villanova himself, Ryan Arcidiacono, who was just allowed to test the open market as an unrestricted free agent by the Chicago Bulls.
Ryan Arcidiacono is an ideal third point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers.
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As things presently stand, the Philadelphia 76ers are pretty well stocked at the point guard position.
If the season started today, the team would surely rely on a point guard rotation of Ben Simmons, Tyrese Maxey, and George Hill, with Shake Milton, Seth Curry, and 2021 first-round pick, Jaden Springer, available to take on secondary ball-handling duties if needed.
Granted, are all of those players locks to still be on the roster when the season opens up? No. Honestly, there’s a very real situation where half of those players are done in one deal or another – you know the hypothetical trade scenarios – but assuming Daryl Morey doesn’t go brazy and shop out half of the roster in a crazy all-in move to win the Eastern Conference for the first time in 20 years, it’s fairly safe to say the Sixers have the majority of their point guard minutes squared away heading into 2021-22.
But as we saw last season, injuries are a cruel, cruel beast that can derail a season in a hurry. While in the playoffs, teams can typically get away with an eight-ish man rotation, for a full 82 game season, teams really have to run 13 deep with viable contributors, even if all of those players don’t take the court every single night.
With that in mind, securing Ryan Arcidiacono’s services on a veteran minimum deal makes a world of sense.
Since joining the NBA ranks as an undrafted free agent in 2017, Arch has appeared in 207 games with 36 starts and averaged 4.8 points in 17.6 minutes of action a night. He still shoots 3 pointers at an above-average clip, holding a 37.3 make percentage on 453 career attempts, and remains the sort of lead guard who can get an offense its sets and run the show in a professional manner.
Is Arcidiacono going to win you a lot of games? No. If he has to play 30-plus minutes in any given game, you are probably in trouble – as the Bulls are 9-12 in such situations over the past four seasons – but as Sixers’ fans saw last season, most notably in the “Seven Sixers game,” sometimes situations get weird, especially with a global pandemic possessing the potential to throw the season out of wack in an instant.
Do you like the idea of George Hill, a professional combo guard coming off the bench, but cringe at his cap hit versus on-court production? Well, Arcidiacono, or a comparable player, could provide a similar option without the added pressure to get him onto the court in the hopes of justifying his price tag.
Worst case scenario? Arcidiacono signs a contract, becomes superfluous for one reason or another and ends up getting waived a la Justin Anderson last summer with a personalized jersey, a fun story, and surely a local car commercial or two for his efforts.
When you’re a 27-year-old throwback guard coming off of arguably the worst season of your career, a return home to the city that made you might just be what the doctor ordered to get things right back on track… or a fitting coda to a basketball career that peaked in college.
Is that a tad harsh? Eh, maybe so, but when you’re arguably the most ubiquitous player in the history of a modern college basketball titan, finding success in the pros is just gravy.
If Arcidiacono’s career ended tomorrow, he very well may end up in the Basketball Hall of Fame, as collegiate stats as weighed just as heavily as professional and overseas ones and you’d be hard-pressed to find a player with a better college resume than the pride of Langhorne, Pennsylvania.
If Daryl Morey intends to keep Ben Simmons for the 2021-22 season, the Philadelphia 76ers don’t have to worry about signing a third-string point guard. If they flip Simmons for another point guard while holding on to a player like Tyrese Maxey, one could make the argument that procuring another point guard may be a superfluous endeavor too, especially if the team’s addition is a viable floor general. But if the Sixers have to re-tool on the fly and reassemble their rotation with a bunch of veteran minimum players like the Houston Rockets of yore, then securing a player like Ryan Arcidiacono could very well be in play as a bottom-of-the-roster dude who would run through a brick wall to ensure his team wins. It certainly worked just up the Main Line at Villanova.