Trading Julian Wright for Marco Belinelli might have been the best trade for Dell Demps of his young General Manager career. Now, Marco didn’t set the world on fire, nor did he stake his claim as a legitimate starting two-guard in the league, he did show that he could be an integral role player for the New Orleans Hornets.
He shot the ball extremely well, played well off of Chris Paul and filled the role that Peja Stojakovic left.
The great thing for Marco, was that he was able to finally get the playing time that he’d desired for so long in his career. Not only did he get it, he also was able to do it on a winning NBA team. Something that went unnoticed often, was Marco’s work ethic. The way he worked with coach Mike Malone to constantly improve his shot, as well as his defense, is a testament to the player he ought to become.
Today we’ll review several things about the season that was, as well as the future of what he needs to become.
Marco’s Up-Down-Up-Down Season
Shooting-Guard has always been a position that has been lacking for the Hornets for some time. Ever since Larry Johnson was traded, the Hornets haven’t had a stand-out shooting guard for some time. Putting Marcus Thornton to the side for a minute, assessing whether Marco Belinelli has what it takes, doesn’t take too long.
The fine line between average and above-average is all too often misconceived. Marco is at best an average NBA player, nothing more, and not to much less. Many of my Italian readers are flinging swear-words at me, but it’s not the insult you would lead to believe. Being average isn’t all that bad. The problem is, that being average and being a starter is something that won’t mesh to well if your trying to build for a championship.
Looking at Marco’s season we begin to realise that for one reason or another the inconsistencies were too much. Giving the benefit to shooters, even when he was great, it didn’t perpetrait into many wins.
Last season Marco scored over 20 points just four times. For reference J.R. Smith did it 11 times (coming off the bench), Marcus Thornton did it 20 times in half a season and Nick Young did it 30 times in a season where he didn’t play in his last 16 games. These are all players, around Marco’s age, with the same or relative experience as Marco who play similar type of roles.
Saying that Marco “isn’t a scorer,” isn’t good enough for me. If he can’t score I don’t want him at my two-guard spot. This is why he’s a bench player.
Belinelli did show signs of promise. The month of November produced what probably was his best period in his entire NBA career. In it he averaged 13 points, shot 45 percent from three and 47 percent from the floor. The chasm left in the middle of the season, is too much to ignore. Even though he turned it around a little towards the end of the season, he is nothing more than a shooter off the bench. Which is, I remind you, a good thing.
Areas to Work On
Marco is a guy who seems like a hard-work, and I’m glad the Hornets brought him back for the affordable price of 3.3 million dollars. Having said that, he should not, at all costs, be the starting shooting-guard on opening night. I’ll give Dell Demps this, there isn’t a great deal of options out there. But as I mentioned from a few names before, there’s a lot of people out-performing him.
Belinelli needs to get back to what he did so well before he came here. I remember in that November month, that he drove to the basket aggressively and tried to draw contact. That disappeared in the later month’s as he took jump-shot after jump, which is fine if you’re coming off the bench.
He’s an underrated passer, who sometimes doesn’t trust his abilities. He needs to refine his shot so that he doesn’t rush it (to many times he’s open and he gets a little to excited). I wish we could bring Peja Stojakovic in as a consultant to work with Marco.
Other than that I don’t see him improving his defense any more-so than it already is. Also his rebounding is never going to be a strong suite. He just needs to remember to stick with his players and remain aggressive.
There have been rumours, mainly from Europe, that Marco might be entertaining a move back to his home country, or any Euro-League team. This might be a solid option for him during an extended lockout because he could get value very similar to his current contract. I wouldn’t be surprised if he signed with Real Madrid or even with a ball-club in Italy.
My thoughts on Belinelli aside, we need to realise that he’s not the short or long term answer for the Hornets at the starting two-guard spot. I think he’d be an excellent option off the bench as his shooting is very underrated, so too his passing. Italian fans should not be upset, I think Marco should stay on the team. It’s his role that I have a problem with. A PER of 12 isn’t going to cut it from your shooting-guard when there are others out there doing much better.
Final Season Grade (Measured in Awesome to the Max’s):
Two and a Half out of Five