Like it or not, the best offseason move the Bulls have made is signing the sharp-shooter from San Giovanni in Persiceto, Italy.
Having already said a mouthful, allow me to sell you on how Belinelli fits with the Bulls.
With the trade of Kyle Korver to the Atlanta Hawks, the Bulls sacrificed instant offense in order to save $500,000. The return was cash and a near $5 million trade exception.
After the trade was announced, there were cries amongst Bulls fans about why the Bulls would gut their team in the fashion that they had.
Some fans wondered aloud, “What the hell are they thinking?” Other fans worried “who will score points” for a team that has oftentimes struggled to score.
Enter Belinelli, a player who is determined to make us forget Bulls announcer Stacey King’s best line: “Gimme the hot sauce!”
In the Bulls offense, Belinelli will be more than a set shooter who requires an off-the-ball screen to get free. He, unlike Korver, is a not a set-shooter. Belinelli is an athletic, gunner that is tailor-made for the motion offense the Bulls employ.
The Bulls set high-screens with their center or power forward, who then flashes out to the elbow while the ball-handler has three options.
He can either take the ball to the lane while the opposing team's defender is distracted, make the pass to the player who sets the high-screen or find a shooter in the corner for a three-point shot.
In most cases this works to perfection. With the inclusion of Belinelli, the Bulls get to add a whole new wrinkle to the offense.
Belinelli has fairly good ball-handling skills, and he does not turn the ball over (one turnover per game) when he dribbles. He will be effective in drawing defenders off guard with his potent up-fake. It works for the Bulls, because teams have to respect his three-point shooting (39 percent career average.)
The fact that Belinelli can make threes from anywhere on the floor should be considered a luxury. The combination of his shot and his penetration skills will help the Bulls in terms of their overall floor-spacing.
In the previous seasons, excluding Derrick Rose and C.J. Watson, teams did not have to fear Bulls players driving to the basket.
As a result, teams forced Rose or Watson to keep the ball in situations that they would most likely pass by going to a soft 3-2 zone defense. The idea was to allow the ball to move freely at the top of the three-point line while negating easy layups or drive-and-kick opportunities in the corners.
The idea was to take away what the Bulls do best.
This tactic proved to work, as teams were able to harass shooters and often force Rose or Watson to turn the ball over. It ultimately led to high turnover numbers from both players. Rose averaged 3.1 turnovers during the season while Watson coughed up the ball twice per game.
While the ball-handlers struggled at times, the shooters were stymied.
In the starting lineup, Luol Deng was the designated spot-up shooter from the corner, while Richard Hamilton roamed the 15-18 foot range on the opposite side. With neither one of them known to put the ball on the floor and to drive it to the basket, opposing teams only had to deny them the basketball.
Deng would go on cold, shooting streaks while Hamilton could not get separation for easy baskets.
Belinelli, however, is a different type of player. He is a threat to dribble for a better shot and will give defenders something to think about.
Once again, I feel that this is the best move the Bulls have made this offseason. It is now time to work on my Italian.
“Egli è assolutamente in fiamme!”