Heading into the second and final year of his deal with the San Antonio Spurs, Italian sharpshooter Marco Belinelli will need to adjust to a new role.
It’s no secret that the San Antonio Spurs have a crowded backcourt rotation – especially at the two-guard spot. With star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan projected to slot into the small forward slot for this group, players like Bryn Forbes, Derrick White and Lonnie Walker IV leave very little room for 33-year-old Marco Belinelli to find his minutes.
Head coach Gregg Popovich is going to instill his trust in his veterans early on, but the expectation is for White to remain in a featured role in spite of Dejounte Murray’s impending return to point guard for the 2019-20 season. This means White is going to log significant minutes at the shooting guard, a position where his size and explosiveness fit nicely alongside the aforementioned Murray.
Pop will need to figure out how to keep everyone involved and unfortunately for Belinelli, this means a decrease in minutes and situational importance. Belinelli was a productive regular season player last year, averaging 10.5 points and 2.5 rebounds on 41.3 percent shooting from the field and 37.2 percent shooting from deep.
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— Marco Belinelli (@marcobelinelli) August 25, 2019
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Few players are as impressive at knocking down leaning three-pointers as Beli, but Forbes is easily the better player at this point in their careers with higher effort on both ends of the floor, more explosiveness and more efficient play. Forbes’ career-high 58.6 percent true shooting mark is roughly three percent higher than Belinelli’s in more playing time against starters.
This means that Forbes will likely take priority over Marco in next season’s rotation, leaving a major question for the team’s backup small forward slot. Standing at 6-foot-5, Belinelli can perform at the backup-three slot, but that may be reserved for the likes of DeMarre Carroll or an emerging Walker.
I expect playing time for Belinelli and a few major outings that’ll give fans faith in his spot on this team, but he may need to accept that his time as a high-end rotation player in San Antonio could be finished. From a culture standpoint and as a third-string role player, Belinelli remains a perfect fit with this team, although the light at the end of the tunnel has begun to glimmer.
Regardless of his role, Belinelli will be a valued and respected member of the Spurs this year.