It's the dawning of a new era in New Orleans basketball, and with so much attention paid to matters off the court this season, I believe it's time to evaluate how our franchise performed during its time on the court. As a result, I want to begin an evaluation of the front office, the roster and the coaching staff and see how they performed, what could happen going forward, and whether or not you approve of their job this season. Without further adieu, the next player we're going to look at is
Rocky Balboa Marco Belinelli.
Fifth season (second with the Hornets) out of Fortitudo Bologna in Italy (Unrestricted Free Agent)
66 Games, 55 Starts, 11.8 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.5 APG, 78.3 FT Pctg., 37.7 3PT FG Pctg., 41.7 FG Pctg., 11.9 PER, 105 Offensive Rating, 109 Defensive Rating
Best game this season: April 24th at Golden State (23 Points, 4 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 3 Steals in 35 Minutes during an 83-81 victory)
Belinelli is someone who has drove Hornets fans the most insane over the past couple of seasons. Brought in to be a mini-Peja Stojakovic of sorts, Belinelli has been as mini as possible in regards to that comparison. He's shown moments of brilliance (and I do mean that) but followed it up with unreal amounts of inconsistency that leave Hornets fans wanting to lay him down in the pasture. All in all, Belinelli is a limited but productive shooting guard who simply has been asked to do more than he should over his past couple of seasons in New Orleans. After a productive season last year that saw him hit some big shots for the Hornets and shoot a very good 41% from three point land, Belinelli entered this season as the team's prospective sixth man. Instead, due to injuries to Jarrett Jack and Eric Gordon, Belinelli wound up starting the most games of any Hornet this season.
As pointed out earlier, a lot of the problems that Belinelli encounters stem from his being asked to do more than he's really capable of. Belinelli has one vital asset that will always find him on a roster and that's his shot. When it's going down, it looks beautiful and, even with the rate at which he shot, Belinelli finished with a very respectable 37.7 3PT Field Goal percentage this season. It was a drop from last season but without Chris Paul (or even Eric Gordon) to create consistent open looks for him, Belinelli was unable to knock down shots at the rate he did last season.
Belinelli also still tries but still struggles defensively. It's a problem he has not due to a lack of effort but due, simply, to a lack of lateral speed and also without a frame that supports physical play from his opponents. Belinelli did, however, post the best rebounding% numbers of his career; although they were still extremely low for his position. But for someone who started the most games for New Orleans this year, his usage rate was only 46th at his position in the league; so it gives credence to the idea that possibly he would be better with a more restrained role.
Belinelli is a very good shooter and will find himself a spot on someone's roster next season and it may very well be New Orleans'. Taken from an article on Sports Illustrated last month, Monty Williams stated that Belinelli "is a monster. A monster. He is who we are, and who we want to be.... He never, ever complains. He works hard every single day. He and Jason have been the biggest surprises for me since I’ve been here and two of my favorite people since I’ve been a coach." Given the injury history of Eric Gordon and the inability of Xavier Henry to take the reigns and make a statement for his placement on the team, it's very probable that we could see Belinelli in a Hornets uniform next season. . And maybe with more talented players to open up the court for him, that may not be such a bad thing.