Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/3/13
How you feel about Marco Belinelli will likely depend on how you feel about Manu Ginobili. Make no mistake — Belinelli is no Ginobili. Rather he’s a watered-down version of the aging yet still-potent dynamo the Spurs had no doubts about re-signing even after a wildly inconsistent Finals. Considering Ginobili at 36 is a watered-down version of his own best self that isn’t a ringing endorsement. But for a Spurs team with minimal cap space after bringing back Ginobili and Tiago Splitter and a need for another multi-talented guard to lighten the load on Ginobili and Tony Parker Belinelli was a practical choice. If Matt Bonner is Winter Shoes the Italian journeyman is Christmas Socks: Thoroughly underwhelming but useful nonetheless. With Gary Neal gone and the true back-up point guard role still unsettled the Spurs will rely on their lone offseason acquisition of consequence in a big way. “He’s going to enter in our plans significantly and quickly” head coach Gregg Popovich said. Belinelli’s skill set has been outlined here and elsewhere and Popovich underscored it once more Monday at the Spurs’ annual media event: Versatile quality pick-and-roll player solid on defense. He forgot to mention Belinelli’s above-stroke at the 3-point line where his career percentage of 38.7 sits almost three points above last year’s league average. “I think he’s a very underrated player” Popovich said. Belinelli about to play for his fifth team also shot just 39.5 percent overall last season with Chicago and has yet to come closer than 2.4 points to the weighted average in John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Rating in any of his six NBA campaigns. Clearly then Belinelli is no savior. But Popovich will at least have another option in the backcourt one he could have used in Games 6 and 7 of the Finals as Parker succumbed to fatigue injury and Miami’s withering defensive attention and Ginobili careened out of control. The chance to play important minutes for a legitimate contender is something Belinelli has never experienced in stints with Golden State Toronto New Orleans and the Bulls sans Derrick Rose. Indeed he said that’s the main reason why he came to San Antonio. “I’m really happy to be here” he said. “I’m going to play with a great team. I’m going to play with Tim Duncan Tony Parker. I will work a lot to do everything that I can to win.”
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