Toronto Raptors: Marco Belinelli a Shooting Star

Stephen BrotherstonAnalyst IAugust 30, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 07:  Marco Belinelli #18 of the Golden State Warriors takes the ball to the basket against the Memphis Grizzlies during the game on November 7, 2008 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. The Grizzlies won 109-104. 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 Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Marco Belinelli, the 18th pick of the Golden State Warriors in 2007, came to the NBA at the age of 21 after five professional seasons in the top division in Italy.

Belinelli was highly coveted by the Raptors who were reported trying to obtain an additional draft pick to select him.  No deal materialized and the Italian player fell to Golden State.

Contrary to ESPN’s Hollinger scouting report that states “Belinelli...Euroleague translations predicted: ...a decent scoring rate with a bad shooting percentage”, both Brian Colangelo and Maurizio Gherardini knew this kid could shoot!

In Belinelli’s last two seasons playing for Fortitudo Pallacanestro Bologna in Italy, Marco averaged 14 ppg and shot 52 percent for two and shot seven threes per game making 37.5 percent of them.  Scouting reports described Belinelli as being able to hit threes from anywhere on the floor.

Marco Belinelli has been described as a good ball handler with a good first step and the ability to finish at the rim.  An excellent catch-and-shoot player and effective off the curl with beautiful form on his high arcing shot.  He can also score with a hand in his face when he’s hot. Marco has good court vision and the ability to make difficult passes. 

But Belinelli has not shot well off the dribble and sometimes shows poor judgement in his shot selection.  He should be a good defender with his lateral quickness and long arms and he does get steals, but he seems to lack the necessary focus so far.

In his first year with GSW, Belinelli never made it out of Don Nelson’s doghouse.  Despite an amazing summer league where he averaged 22 ppg, Marco couldn’t crack a bench deep in wing players and ended up playing in only 33 games for an average of just seven minutes per game.   The only bright spot being Belinelli did hit 39 percent of his three pointers.

The depth at Golden State’s wing position didn’t change but the next season did provide some opportunities due to injury and personal issues.  In the 42 games Belinelli got to play, he managed 8.9 points, 1.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 0.9 steals in 21 minutes.  He also kept up his three point shooting percentage at 39.7 percent.

Last year, Belinelli ranked eighth in scoring amongst rookie and sophomore shooting guards.

Nelson finally gave Belinelli a real chance to play in the middle of the season.  For 20 games between Dec. 6, 2008 and Jan. 11, 2009 Belinelli played an average of 29 minutes per game. 

During this time he averaged 13.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 3 apg and 1.1 steals.  His two point shooting averaged 47.7 percent and he shot three pointers at 37.6 percent.

Toronto fans should remember how he burned the Raptors for 23 points and 6 assists connecting on 5-of-8 from 3 on Dec. 29.

Unfortunately for Marco, he turned an ankle on Jan. 11 only saw significant minutes after this while Monta Ellis was away on personal leave at the end of February.

For that 20 game stretch last season, Marco Belinelli’s scoring averaged more than any other rookie or sophomore shooting guard except Eric Gordon and O.J. Mayo.

One thing is certain; the Toronto Raptors have picked up a shooting guard who can score the ball!