NBA scouts have mixed reactions when it comes to the undrafted sleeper, Antonio Blakeney.
Blakeney went undrafted but he didn’t stop believing in himself. In the summer league, he proved himself to the Bulls averaging 34.1 PPG, 7.2 REBS, 4.7 ASTS, 1.2 STLS on 49% FG and 39% 3-PT. The Bulls knew they stumbled upon something special and he was expected to fight for a spot in the rotation. Unfortunately for Blakeney, he would be sent to the G-League although he’s shown star potential.
However, if anything Antonio has further proved himself in the G-League.

Looking Through the Eyes of an NBA Scout.

(Photo by Allison Farrand/NBAE via Getty Images)

He’s currently the leading scorer (34.1 PPG) with a 61% True Shooting percentage go with it. If he remained in the G-League for the rest of the season, there’s no question he’s an MVP candidate. So why haven’t the Chicago Bulls called him up and put him in the rotation?

Although it seems like an easy decision to bring Blakeney off the bench, the Bulls have different opinions. Spark Sports got the opportunity to take part in the G-League showcase. The Bulls scout gave an interesting perspective when asked if Antonio is a diamond in the rough.

The Bulls want more from Blakeney than just proving he could be a leading scorer. Although Antonio has “Mamba Mentality” on offense, the Bulls aren’t looking for a volume shooter. The 6’4 guard leads the team in Field Goals Attempted with 24 shots. For comparison, Kris Dunn leads Chicago in FGA with 13.4 shots. Nikola Mirotic leads the Bulls bench with 12.1 FGA.

If Antonio were to come off the bench for Chicago we would see a huge drop in his stats. For starters, Blakeney leads the league in Usage percentage with 34.3%. The leading USG% off the bench is Mirotic at 26.5%. The Windy City Bulls guard in his 11 games with the Bulls had a 25.2 USG%.

Averaging 14.8 MPG, Blakeney averaged 7.1 PPG, 0.6 ASTS, 1.8 REBS, 0.2 STLS on 36% FG and 28% 3-PT. In the games he scored 16,15 and 11 points, he needed at least 12 shots. It’s easy to see how Antonio is a volume shooter. It would be hard to find a volume shooter enough minutes and shots to put up a similar stat-line to the G-League.

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For example, Blakeney went off for 42 points in the G-League Showcase. I noticed he got a lot of his scoring opportunities off isolation plays. He wouldn’t find the same opportunities off the bench of the Chicago Bulls, in fact, they want to steer clear of that. The Bulls are focused on ball-movement instead of the isolation once run by former Bull Jimmy Butler.

“He’s a great scorer.” an NBA scout said to Spark Sports. “But he seems like he COULD be another case of somebody who can’t translate that ability to the (NBA). He’s still young so he has lots of time to improve here… I’d like to see him do more while doing less… Does that make sense?”

It can’t be denied that the 21-year old guard has an unreal scoring potential. However, it doesn’t seem like he can get enough shots and utilization to show that on the Bulls.

For a young, rebuilding team, the Chicago Bulls should still have some room for Blakeney. Still looking for a way to fit him in the rotation, the Bulls made a choice. Send Antonio to the G-League to develop his game and prove he can be a good fit for the team.

If Blakeney’s story has told us anything, it’s that he’s not giving up no matter the situation.