Hawks player preview: Marco Belinelli

The Hawks are set to begin training camp on Sept. 26. I'm previewing one player each day leading up to camp (in alphabetical order).

Marco Belinelli

Position: SG/SF

Height/Weight: 6-5, 210

Age: 31 (3/25/86)

2017-18 salary: $6.6 million

CARMELO projected value: minus $2.9 million

How acquired: 2017 trade (Hornets)


Belinelli has attempted 5,191 shots during his NBA career and 71 percent of them were from beyond 16 feet, including 44 percent from beyond the 3-point line. He’s never been a consistently great shooter but, after a career-worst offensive season with the Kings in 2015-16, Belinelli was a solid shooter for the Hornets last season particularly on corner threes (46.3 percent).

Totals Table
Season Tm G MP 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% eFG%
2013-14 SAS 80 2016 126 293 .430 211 402 .525 .576
2014-15 SAS 62 1388 86 230 .374 113 240 .471 .515
2015-16 SAC 68 1672 91 297 .306 154 338 .456 .457
2016-17 CHO 74 1778 102 283 .360 162 332 .488 .512
Career 644 14903 853 2262 .377 1351 2929 .461 .507
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/5/2017.

Belinelli draws fouls at a decent rate is an excellent free-throw shooter (83.2 percent career) but he’s essentially been a pure catch-and-shoot guy during his 10 NBA seasons. Last season, however, Belinelli attacked more often on pick-and-rolls and produced good results.

Marco Belinelli play type: Pick-and-roll ballhandler (via stats.NBA.com)

Season Possesions Play type % Pts per poss League percentile
2016-17 147 19.6 0.92 78.0
2015-16 102 13.3 0.57 12.8

Belinelli also was a more productive passer in 2016-17 while keeping his turnover rate low. Big changes are improbable at this point in his career, but perhaps his more versatile offensive game is a sign that he can be more than just a spot-up shooter.


Belinelli is a bad defender, both as an individual and within the team context.

According to Basketball Reference data, Belinelli is one of 130 guards to play at least 6,400 minutes since 2009-10 (his first as an NBA regular). Among those players Bellinelli ranks 119th in block percentage (0.2), 107th in steals percentage (1.3) and 82nd in defensive rebounding percentage (9.1).

NBA.com's tracking data shows that Belinelli's defensive field-goal percentage against (70.4) is tied for fifth-worst among guards who played at least 41 games last season. Bellinelli’s Defensive Real Plus Minus of -1.87 during the 2016-17 season is his best since the ESPN started listing that metric for the 2013-14 season and that ranked tied for 75th  among 94 shooting guards listed.


FiveThirtyEight.com’s CARMELO forecast projects that, after his resurgent season with the Hornets, Belinelli’s decline will continue. If that projection is right then Belinelli won't help the Hawks. But he could be a good piece for a rebuilding team if he can turn in another solid season.

Belinelli can provide some value for the Hawks now with his offense, especially if he coach Mike Budenholzer can coax better defensive effort from him while deploying him in lineups with stronger defenders. If that happens, Belinelli could bring some trade value later as a veteran shooter with an expiring contract—the kind of player contending teams seek for playoff runs.

Belinelli can become a free agent next summer so he certainly will have incentive to show that he can still help. The tricky part for Budenholzer may be creating a trade market for Belinelli while not holding back the development of the young wings on the roster.

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About the Author

Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham has covered the Hawks and other beats for the AJC since 2010.