Why Marco Belinelli Has Been a Perfect Signing for the Spurs
With the NBA playoffs right around the corner, now is a better time than ever to look at one player who has vastly contributed to the success of the San Antonio Spurs this season and hopefully will continue to thrive throughout the playoffs: Marco Belinelli.
When Belinelli signed with the Spurs in the offseason, I was naturally ecstatic.
Belinelli, who was considered a journeyman before settling down with the Spurs, had a pretty unassuming career up until this season.
After failing to meet the high expectations that were placed on him by Golden State Warriors fans after his summer league outburst as a rookie, Belinelli had short stints for the Toronto Raptors, New Orleans Pelicans, and Chicago Bulls.
It was during the Bulls playoff series with the Miami Heat last season where I finally witnessed the Italian gunner, who, at that time, reminded me of the original Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther. On a Bulls team that was completely overmatched and devoid of offensive firepower due to Derrick Rose’s absence, Belinelli was one of the Bulls lone “go-to” offensive options alongside Nate Robinson.
His playoff performance certainly earned him a chance at good money in the offseason, but Belinelli, instead, opted to sign with a Spurs team that offered him less money than other clubs. The fact that Belinelli took less money to be on a championship caliber team, and the fact that he knew he would be assigned as a bench player, were the first signs to me that Belinelli was going to be right at home in San Antonio.
Belinelli also filled a huge hole that was left by the departure of Gary Neal.
Although Neal was a solid player for the Spurs, who had his fair share of bright moments, Belinelli fit in with the Spurs mold much more than Neal ever did, and ever would.
Neal was sporadic shooter who was more of a combo guard than a true point guard or shooting guard, so you never could really trust him running the second team offense.
With Belinelli, the Spurs added the services of a player who understood his role as a pure shooting guard, and he completely bought into Popovich’s system.
As a result, Belinelli will finish the regular season as one of the top ten three point shooters in the league at 43.4%, which is even ahead of teammates Patty Mills and Danny Green, who also round out the top ten (eighth and 10th, respectively).
Although Belinelli is never going to be mistaken for a defensive stalwart, he has shown that he can hold his own offensively when his number is called (Golden State, anybody?). He even won the three-point contest (much to the chagrin of Reggie Miller) when other better-known players were heavily favored.
Essentially, Belinelli’s signing coupled with Patty Mills’ emergence as the Spurs back-up point guard has more than made up for Gary Neal’s departure.