My first memories of Marco Belinelli are from Vegas Summer League. He exploded onto the scene, scoring effortlessly as a rookie for the Golden State Warriors to the tune of 37 points in his first game. In the months that followed, he became a cautionary tale of not putting too much stock into a Summer League performance. I couldn't help but recall this as I watched Belinelli go into god mode, scoring 25 points in the second half of Italy's Eurobasket victory over Spain. International ball is a different animal. Be impressed by the performance, but keep in mind the context.
So the question of the day, then, is what will we actually see from Marco Belinelli as a Sacramento King?
We certainly have enough data to examine. That Summer League explosion was the summer of 2007, a lifetime ago in NBA terms. After eight years in the league, there are few surprises with Marco. While you could argue he fit a perfect role in the Spurs system, heightening his value, his numbers don't really stand out from his career averages. Of course, numbers don't always tell the whole story, so I reached out to Graydon Gordian for his insights. Graydon is Editor Emeritus of 48 Minutes of Hell, and is a well-informed Spurs fan.
I asked first for overall perception of Belinelli after watching him for two years.
I liked him a lot.He was a liability on defense, admittedly. But I loved the offense with him on the floor. I rarely was upset when the play ended in a shot he took, and I think he spaced the floor well, and showed terrific balance between team-play/passing and aggression
And how much of that was him as opposed to the Spurs magic?
I think he fit the system very well but I think he was inclined to play that way. Less ball movement in Sacramento than San Antonio wouldn't be a surprise cause, duh, but he's an exceptional outside shooter and an underrated off-the-dribble scorer. Those things help open up so much else.
Long story short: I think Sac-town fans will like him, not love him. His lack of defensive intensity will be a constant sore spot but simply put: the ball goes in the basket more often when he is on the floor. no question.
Finally I asked what it is about Belinelli's defense that is so frustrating. I wanted to know if it was a lack of ability, effort, awareness, or a combination of it all.
I think he's too smart to be a "no awareness" type. I think he'll be in position, etc. but going beyond that -- really fighting for the stop -- isn't in his nature. In generally he plays an effortless game, in both the best and worst ways.
So there you have it. Belinelli is who he is at this point, and it sounds like his play matches his reputation. Kings fans are going to love the shooting and the floor-spacing, but will bemoan the defense.
Personally, none of this takes away from my excitement at Marco joining the team. He's still an upgrade over what Stauskas brought to the roster. And the team can use a guy who has the potential to explode off the bench on any given night. I see Marco filling a Jamal Crawford type of role for the team, and that's a good thing.