By most statistical measures, Marco Belinelli is not a particularly effective basketball player.
His raw plus-minus, adjusted plus-minus and net rating all definitively point to a net negative impact. He posted a decent—but uninspiring—52.5 true shooting percentage and a well-below average 11.9 PER last season for the New Orleans Hornets.
His assist percentage (8.9) was pretty dismal for a guard with some capacity to handle the ball, and his per-minute scoring output was almost exclusively a product of his per-minute shooting volume.
And yet, with the news that—per Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago—the Bulls are close to a deal with Belinelli for the biannual exception, we can only nod our heads in understanding. Scoring is Belinelli's best NBA-level attribute, and even though he's not particularly efficient in the way he puts up points, he fills a need for a Bulls team that has some serious financial limitations.
Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson and Omer Asik won't be in Chicago next season, largely because of the team's bloated payroll, making it all the more understandable that the Bulls would look to add a bit of scoring with an option more reasonably in their price range.
It's situations like these in which the Belinellis of the world find their optimal NBA role. Inefficiency is an inconvenience, but that alone doesn't mean that Belinelli can't be a member of a successful team.
On a squad with such consistent defense and persistent offensive limitations, he makes perfect sense. What in another context would be a forced shot is in this case a bit of calculated desperation, channeled through a player who, if nothing else, can launch off the dribble. Belinelli—and those of his ilk—aren't fit to carry an offense, but their shared skill set allows them to bear its weight for a short while.
And that's all Belinelli will be asked to do for the duration of his one-year deal with the Bulls. Chicago thrived for the bulk of the 2011-2012 regular season but sorely lacked shot creation in its shorter-than-anticipated playoff run.
Derrick Rose's unfortunately prolonged absence only exacerbates that deficit, and his injury functionally demanded that Chicago pick up a player in this particular mold.
Belinelli will provide a targeted skill set on a cost-effective salary, and while he hardly makes universal basketball sense for all teams of all styles, his brand of chucking (and reasonable contract) is a perfect fit for a team with the Bulls' specific considerations.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!