Through the opening stretch 2019-20 regular season, it’s becoming evident that Marco Belinelli won’t be much help for the San Antonio Spurs.
Shooting lulls are fully understandable at the start of a new season, but at a certain point, enough is enough. Over the course of his first nine games, San Antonio Spurs swingman Marco Belinelli is shooting by far the worst he ever has. It took nine games for the Italian marksman to surpass two made three-pointers in a game and has only shot above 33.3% from behind the arc in two games this year.
There’s no doubting that the floor spacing he provides opens up the court for his teammates. Even the threat of Belinelli heating up intimidates opposing defenders, forcing at least one wing to hover around the perimeter whenever the 33-year-old is in the game.
However, it’s not enough just to pose a threat – Belinelli isn’t fulfilling his role adequately due to his horrific shooting. Unless he can bring his numbers up drastically, head coach Gregg Popovich will be forced to reconsider his role.
Even in the offseason, playing for the Italian national team in the FIBA World Cup, he had trouble finding consistency in his shooting patterns. With an affection for off-balance jumpers and unconventional leaning threes, Belinelli plays an individualized style that doesn’t always translate to efficient play.
— NBA Math (@NBA_Math) November 6, 2019
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Popovich has kept wings Lonnie Walker IV and DeMarre Carroll stashed on the bench, which has been partially surprising because of how much individual hype they each garnered in the offseason. San Antonio committed to Carroll for three seasons, and yet the backup wing minutes are going to someone who has made seven triples on 30 attempts thus far.
There are also much more pressing areas to address such as a lack of depth at the center position. Popovich has greatly reduced center Jakob Poeltl’s role to start the year, especially with Trey Lyles dominating the boards as this team’s starting power forward. An extra center could be huge for this squad and parting ways with Belinelli could be a way to address the Spurs’ needs.
It’s unlikely that Popovich actually phases Belinelli out of the rotation even though he’s played terribly for the most part. Loyalty is crucial in the Alamo City and Belinelli is a valuable presence for his veteran mentorship and corporate knowledge.
Unless things change over the course of the next few games, Belinelli will be deemed unplayable and will no longer hold a significant role for the organization.