Marco Belinelli: More Than a System Player


After the addition of Rajon Rondo, I would say that Marco Belinelli was pretty easily the second-biggest free agency addition Vlade Divac made this offseason. The San Antonio Spurs sharpshooter was seen as a quality bench shooter to fix the Kings’ shooting woes.

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The biggest critique me and others have made about Belinelli is that he could be just a product of the Spurs’ system. We’ve seen free agents leave San Antonio only to never enjoy the same kind of success with another team, meaning their skill and numbers produced with the Spurs is more due to Gregg Popovich and the incredible franchise there, not the individual player.

Marco Belinelli seems hellbent on ensuring people do not feel that way about him. He’s not playing the role of a spot-up shooter that many people expected him to so far this preseason. He’s actually playing the exact opposite role–Marco looks more like Kobe Bryant than Kyle Korver out there.

Oct 5, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Marco Belinelli (3) shoots a jump shot over Portland Trail Blazers guard Phil Pressey (26) at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Belinelli averaged 12.3 shot attempts per 36 minutes in his two years with the Spurs. He’s averaged exactly 31 minutes per game in his first three preseason games with the Kings and taken 17 shot attempts per game.

Belinelli is chucking at a rate unlike he ever has before–his previous career-high for shots taken per 36 minutes was just under 14. He’s acting like a dynamic bench scorer, which is not what I expected from him at all.

And unfortunately it hasn’t been working out so well for Belinelli or the Kings so far. He isn’t making most of the shots he’s taking–especially from three-point territory.

He’s making just 23 percent of his attempts from long-range, and just 12.5 percent of his three-pointers in the last two games. Belinelli made 45 percent of his field goals thus far, but again those numbers are inflated by the Kings’ first preseason game against the Portland Trail Blazers–he’s made 33 percent of his shots in the last two games.

This new Marco Belinelli worked out great in the Kings’ first preseason game, but hasn’t looked the same since. I have no problem with him trying this out right now, but if the results are going to look the same as they have over the last two games then I don’t think it would be best for it to carry over into the regular season.

Belinelli isn’t some developing player–it’s not impossible that he learns new things, but changing his play style so dramatically may be out of reach at this stage in his career. He’s a very capable knock-down three-point shooter, considering managed to shoot 43 percent from deep two years ago.

But he’s never been a very prodigious scorer. In fact Belinelli has only cracked ten points a game three times in his eight season career–he’s a shooter, not a scorer. Until this year, I guess.

With Darren Collison, Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins on this team I’m not sure the Kings really need Marco Belinelli to take all of those shots though. We’ll see what happens with Belinelli going forward–it may end up one of the more interesting storylines in Sacramento this season.

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