The first major signing of Sacramento's offseason was the addition of former Spurs sharpshooter Marco Belinelli. For a team that has been as desperate for shooting as Sacramento has been, Belinelli's addition to the team was most welcome.
Recently I had a Q&A with Michael Erler of SB Nation's Spurs blog Pounding the Rock about Ray McCallum, who the Kings traded to the Spurs earlier this summer. Michael was kind enough to return the favor and answer some of my own questions about Marco.
Q: We all know Marco's reputation for shooting the ball, but what else does he bring to the table?
A: His best non-shooting skill is probably his cutting backdoor off the ball. He's very good at anticipating when his man will turn his head/attention to the ball and scooting toward the basket at that specific moment. Obviously he's not the most athletic finisher in the world, but he's pretty good at putting English on the ball and finishing off those one-touch layups before the big can react. A skilled passer like Cousins can work well with him there. He's also a better playmaker, especially in transition, then people might think, though we saw less of that from him in his second season than the first. He also rebounds pretty well in his own end.
Q: Marco's production and efficiency fell last year. What was the reason for the decline in your mind?
A: The injuries didn't help. He hurt his groin very early in the season and missed 8 games and then re-injured it in January and missed 11 more, so it took him a while to find his rhythm. A lot of it was simply regressing to the mean of his career norms though. If you look at his numbers, 2014-15 is an outlier for him in most respects, and even then he was just really hot the first 50 games before the All-Star break and then kind of nosedived.
Q: The Kings have had problems with consistency in the past. Is Marco a consistent player or does he tend to run hot and cold?
A: Like most shooters, he's streaky, but generally the more he plays the better he does. He finished 2014-15 as the team's 10th man and didn't do much in the playoffs, but during the regular season he very quietly finished second to Duncan on the team in minutes thanks to injuries to Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Danny Green and Manu Ginobili. That's my favorite trivia question about the 2013-14 Spurs, widely regarded as one of the all-time dominant teams, that the only two guys who cracked 2,000 minutes in the regular season were Tim Duncan and Marco Belinelli.
Q: What can Ben McLemore learn from Marco?
A: Not to be thirsty on Twitter would be the main thing. Outside of that, probably to not take anything your coach tells you personally because they're just trying to make you better and to be as well-rounded a player as possible in terms of passing and rebounding. Just because you're a wing doesn't mean you have to jack it up all the time. Be a combo-guard if you can and that'll make you more useful in the league and more popular with your teammates.
Once again, thanks to Michael for answering these questions. Have his answers changed your opinion on the Belinelli signing at all? Let us know in the comments below.