Perhaps no player on the San Antonio Spurs was on the receiving end of the fans frustration quite as much as the Italian sniper, Marco Belinelli
On a certain level, you have to feel bad for Marco Belinelli. As a member of the 2014 Championship team, Belinelli helped the San Antonio Spurs capture their most impressive and meaningful title. But all of that was thrown out of the window this year as Belinelli was a frequent target of fans’ frustrations.
To some degree, it wasn’t Belinelli’s fault. Yes, he did regress in a few key areas and continued to struggle on defense but it wasn’t his fault that Gregg Popovich played him over Lonnie Walker for much of the season. Walker wasn’t ready and Belinelli had proven himself to be more reliable over his career, can you really blame Pop for going with the guy he trusts?
One of the most frustrating points of the season for Spurs fans and Belinelli was his inconsistency from behind the arc. As a player who had made his career off of his long-range marksmanship, Spurs fans expected consistency from deep from Belinelli. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
Belinelli was up and down for much of the season. He alternated between ice cold and then when you least expected it he would hit one of those leaning shots that he’s famous for. Frankly, if so many of Marco’s shots didn’t come from strange angles or off-balance looks it would make the misses more palatable. But he looks like he’s throwing himself off balance half the time, making the misses even more frustrating than they would be.
But just when you’re ready to completely abandon him, Belinelli will bring you right back in with his leaning heroics as he did when he helped the Spurs capture a 105-104 overtime victory over the Sacramento Kings.
That game perfectly embodied what makes having Belinelli on the team such a frustrating exercise. He can be a defensive liability all game but as one of the few proven 3-point threats on the team, he’s still uniquely able to save the team in a pinch.
He didn’t do enough to justify being played as much as he was, especially over promising youngsters like Walker and Keldon Johnson, but he did just enough to remind us of why he’s trusted by Popovich. It was the perfect storm.
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Despite having one of the worst defensive ratings on the team, we might not have seen the last of Belinelli in a Spurs uniform. Bryn Forbes is approaching unrestricted free agency, it wouldn’t be surprising to see another team offer him a deal that the Spurs are hesitant to match. If that’s the case the Spurs will be even more strapped for 3-point help. They could do worse than bringing the veteran Belinelli back on another one or two year deal.
Hopefully, Johnson and Walker have improved enough by next season that it’s no longer possible for Pop to justify playing Belinelli over them. If Forbes leaves and those two take steps forward then why not bring Marco back. It could be better to have him than someone who doesn’t understand the Spurs way. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.
His future with the team is up in the air but we have to be honest about Marco’s season with the Spurs. It wasn’t what we were hoping for but it wasn’t all bad. Bringing him back next year on a cheap, veteran deal wouldn’t be the worst thing for San Antonio.