Dell Demps worked a genius trade getting rid of the ever useless Julian Wright for the sharpshooter Marco Bellinelli. Not one Hornets fan complained because there was already a shooting guard talented enough to be the starter, he just needed a backup. A year on and we find that things changed considerably over the course of the season. Marcus Thornton didn’t claim the starting position, also received inconsistent minutes, while Belinelli thrived early on but then diminished as the season went on.
We found out in the playoffs that Marco was a very poor starting shooting guard. He shot 31% from three in the series against the Lakers making just 8 three pointers in 6 games (conversely Peja Stojakovic hit 28 three’s in 12 playoff games for the Hornets). When New Orleans needed a shooter Marco was no where to be found. He was outmatched defensively giving Ron Artest easy offensive rebounds and easy layups off the post up.
We can’t judge him solely on his playoffs though, even if he posted a meager 6.6 PER. During the season his three point percentage was very up and down, but his minutes remained consistent (bar a down February). He never seemed to find his rhythm offensively for more than 3 games in a row and just couldn’t be the scorer which was demanded of the position.
If we face the facts, the Hornets need a scorer at shooting guard with Trevor Ariza sitting at small forward. Ariza cannot be the teams third offensive weapon, in a way he shouldn’t even be considered the fourth option. But on this team, this past season he was, and it didn’t usually end with a great result.
While we must appreciate Marco’s ability to shoot the basketball, his defensive capabilities (not effort, he’s got that), scoring abilities and knack for the game aren’t at the level required of an NBA starter.
If the Hornets offered Belinelli a 2 year/2.5 million deal I wouldn’t scoff at it. The problem lies in what the team does moving forward. Most likely, New Orleans will resign Willie Green to play the fourth guard and will have no real need for Belinelli if they find a starting 2-guard.
I don’t expect Belinelli to be retained even if he was a player we all wanted to succeed.