San Antonio Spurs 2018-19 Player Previews: Marco Belinelli’s return is vital
By Dylan Carter
After three years elsewhere, sharpshooter Marco Belinelli returned to the San Antonio Spurs on a two-year deal. His timing couldn’t have been any better.
The return of Marco Belinelli coincides with a very crucial moment in Spurs history. The veteran swingman bounced between Sacramento, Atlanta, Charlotte and Philadelphia over the past three years, but decided that San Antonio was home.
With the Big Three era in the rearview, the return of Belinelli significantly helps to bolster the team’s corporate knowledge while adding an important scoring option to a team that struggled from behind the arc last season.
Between Atlanta and Philly, Belinelli shot 37.7 percent from behind the arc on 4.9 attempts per game. His greatest talent is his ability to hit tough contested three-pointers, something that San Antonio sorely lacked last year.
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With shooting guard DeMar DeRozan and power forward LaMarcus Aldridge leading the team, San Antonio will put up a surplus of mid range jumpers this season. Adding Belinelli to the mix introduces a deadly shooter to the wing to free up room for those two to operate.
For head coach Gregg Popovich, adding Belinelli back to the squad was an easy decision. After their worst offensive season in years, Belinelli is the perfect spark plug to ignite an offense, whether it be off the bench or as a starter. Belinelli is a plug-and-play option for Popovich against certain opponents.
His size and quickness makes Beli a viable small ball option. He’s able to grab rebounds or pass the ball if necessary, but the impact of his shooting is colossal. Unfortunately, the addition of Belinelli is a downgrade from forward Kyle Anderson on the defensive end. While he’s a decent perimeter defender, Belinelli lacks the strength of physical attribute that made Anderson a consistent defender.
ICYMI | Marco Belinelli is back with the Silver and Black! pic.twitter.com/GcIh5gjM5b
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) July 21, 2018
No Spurs team stays the same forever. Over the past 20 years, the team’s play style adapted to new personnel and the state of the NBA. Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford clearly shifted to a more offensive-minded group. With forward Kawhi Leonard and fan-favorite Danny Green in Toronto, Popovich’s three best perimeter defenders, including Anderson, are on to new roles. With that in mind, the Spurs are likely to be an improved offensive team and a declining defensive team.
If you’re going to push the tempo of an offense, Belinelli is an ideal player to throw into the mix. It was evident that he was a necessary piece in a high-powered 76ers offense last season. He’ll take everything he learned over the past three years to be a more complete player than he was during his last stint.
Belinelli is finally back home and fans should be excited it. Talent aside, Belinelli provides championship experience and knowledge of the Spurs way that will surely rub off on the rest of the locker room.