Monty Williams with High Praise for Marco Belinelli: Marco Is a Monster

Holly MacKenzieNBA Lead BloggerApril 11, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 26:  Marco Belinelli #8 of the New Orleans Hornets shoots over Lamar Odom #7 and Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 26, 2011 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Watching Marco Belinelli play basketball is an interesting experience.

It can be exciting, erratic and extremely frustrating all within the span of a couple of possessions. You never know exactly what you're going to get from him, and that's the gift and the curse of having him on your team.

The next time you watch the Hornets, watch Belinelli shoot. Every shot (and, even more confusing, every landing), looks a bit different than the last.

SI's Zach Lowe spoke with Hornets coach Monty Williams in a wide-ranging interview that included talking about Chris Paul, Gregg Popovich and his suits. In short: You need to check it out.

There was a particular exchange that caught my eye, though: That came when Lowe asked how Williams has kept his team motivated each night despite being undermatched when the hit the floor. Williams responded, and what followed was some extremely high praise for Belinelli. I have to say, I didn't see that coming. Given all the chaos and injuries this season, I’m continually impressed by how your team plays. The talent hasn’t been there this season, but you guys play unselfishly on offense, running through your sets, and very hard on defense. How have you managed to keep guys motivated and playing this way?

Williams: It was something I prayed about before the season. I saw our team, and I just prayed we would compete every night. I knew our fans would be upset when we lost Chris Paul, but I think having guys like Jason Smith, Marco Belinelli and Jarrett Jack has made this year a lot easier. Those three guys, every single night, they play hard. That’s what they do. I think fans would read that and say, “Jason who? And Marco Belinelli? What is he talking about?”

Williams: Jason was a project when we got him. Philly traded him to us and we didn’t know what we were getting. He grew leaps and bounds playing behind David West last year. He watched David work. He watched Chris Paul every day, playing on one leg, never taking a day off.  Jason Smith has a ton of character. He’s one of the highest character guys we have. He’ll go hard all day long. And Belinelli?

Williams: Marco is a monster. A monster. He is who we are, and who we want to be. Wow.

Williams: 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.

I love it. I covered Belinelli for a season in Toronto, and I wouldn't have ever expected anyone, much less a coach, to call him a monster. It's great that he's found a home in New Orleans and has developed such a strong rapport with his coach.

"He is who we are and who we want to be."

That's as strong of a statement as you can get from your coach. It's been a rough year in New Orleans. It's nice to see an entirely unexpected surprise by way of Marco Belinelli's work ethic.