Left: Bulls guard Zach LaVine. Right: Bulls point guard Ryan Arcidiacono

USA Today Sports

Bernstein: Answering A Critical Bulls Question

Who would win a game between five Zach LaVines and five Ryan Arcidiaconos?

Dan Bernstein
January 31, 2019 - 3:11 pm

(670 The Score) ​​It's well past time we figured this out, the fundamental question surrounding the current state of the Chicago Bulls and one that we have been debating in the 670 The Score hallways with the gravity and intensity it so clearly deserves.

What would happen if a team of five Ryan Arcidiaconos played a team of five Zach LaVines?

This important and immensely significant debate was sparked by a frequent comment made by Bulls television analyst Stacey King nearly every time Arcidiacono dives on the floor for a loose ball, steps in to take a charge or makes a typical hustle play, something to the effect of "There are five Ryan Arcidiaconos out there!"

So what if there were, with five of his more athletic teammate to oppose him? Who wins and by how much? Forget about the Knicks-Mavericks mega-trade that's electrifying the league right now and know that we're dealing with what really matters.

This showdown presumes a full NBA game, with not only five identical copies of each player starting but enough others to form a reasonable bench rotation. It's like Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith in "The Matrix," but slightly taller and a bit less portentous and enigmatic.

Arcidiacono is 6-foot-3, 200 pounds and has a career PER of 10.5. LaVine is 6-foot-5 and also 200 pounds, with a career PER of 14.3. There's no question that LaVine is a better, more talented basketball player, but this theoretical question is one of gestalt -- the material difference made by how the whole operates beyond being just a sum of parts.

Team Ryan will play an intense, controlled style. They'll fight relentlessly to get over and around screens, will contest shots, box out for rebounding position and will space the floor on offense looking to take advantage of 37.5 percent shooting from the 3-point line. And yes, there will be floor-burn -- the 50/50 balls are likely to go their way more like 60/40 or 70/30.

And they'll need the extra possessions to offset the length and quickness deficit, with Team Zach owning every individual matchup, all the time. The LaVines will switch every screen and won't need to blitz or trap, and anyone will be able to get off a clean shot even when properly defended. But how will they keep track of the "my turn" scoring forays, knowing which Zach's turn it is after not getting enough perceived shots? The sharing and shot selection could be issues, is the point.

And defense could be, as well. Look for the Archies to employ a collegiate-style system along the lines of the Princeton offense, one that tests an opponent's patience and discipline while forcing multiple decisions, help actions and recoveries. Count on at least a couple backdoor-cut layups, after which two Zachs point at each other.

But in the end, I'd avoid overthinking it and go with the multiplied better player. The five Zachs would win by 20-25 points, I think. If they played 10 times, the Archies might take one or two crazy hot shooting games, but they'd have to rain threes to overcome their obvious issues. They could keep it closer than that only because they won't stop trying hard even when the outcome is assured, losing by a deficit not necessarily reflective of the game.

These are the kinds of Bulls concerns that demand our immediate attention.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​​