Should Marco Belinelli be re-signed?

Published: May 26, 2012

Ryan unleashes the numbers on Marco Belinelli and paints the walls red.

Throughout the season, there was only one player who not only played in every contest for the Hornets, but also played at least half the game.  That player was Marco Belinelli, who posted a team-leading 1966 minutes.  Somehow, he managed to miss all the knee, ACL, Head and ankle injuries that plagued the Hornets.  He also managed to avoid the “let’s try out a young player instead” malady that struck Ariza late in the season.

Marco, like he does every year, still had his ups and downs as sometimes his shot was falling, and sometimes it was not.  However, I will confess that by the end of the year, it seemed he was playing better and I felt he wouldn’t be terrible as the team’s backup shooting guard next year.  Then I dug into the numbers.

I was wrong.

Boy was I wrong.

This post started as me poking through piles of advanced stats to try and make sense out of AFA’s season.  But as I took a look at each aspect of the game, something kept leaping out at me.  Marco Belinelli kept cropping up near the bottom of every stat – both personal and team-oriented.  A little surprised, I ran the splits and compared his numbers post all-star to his numbers pre all-star to see if he had improved.  He didn’t play better the second half of the season.  The only thing he did was play more minutes and take more shots, hitting them at about the same rates he did the first half of the season.  So that was just an illusion.

So how bad was Marco over the course of the year?  He’d give King Joffrey a run for his money for being bad at his job.

Here we go.

Overall Stats

If you want to just go with overall rankings, here are the big four in my book:

Stat Belinelli League Average
PER 11.9 15.0
WP48 .050 .100
Win Shares 2.9 6.1
Adjusted +/- -6.05 0.00

So – already things are pretty clear.  No overall ranking considers Marco to be even close to average, much less good.  PER places him close to replacement level, WP48 and Win Shares indicate his production over a full year is worth about a trio of wins, and his Adjusted plus-minus says that regardless of his teammates, his team is outscored by six points over 48 minutes.  Yuck.  Still, we should dig in.


Marco’s calling card is shooting, and indeed he led the team in three point percentage this season with 37.4%.  As far as a designated shooter goes, that’s pretty weak – as the best shooters typically hit at higher than 40%.  Still, it is above average, and (ugh) it was the best on the Hornets this year.  Is that enough to make him valuable?

If you look at the effect his presence has on team production, I’d have to say no.  Despite his shooting percentage, when he enters the game, the team’s Effective Field Goal Percentage(which takes into account 3-point shooting) only increases by .2% from 47.5% to 47.7%.  The teams True Shooting percentage, however, plummets, falling from 52.2% to 50.4%.  That stat reflects not just shooting prowess, but a team’s ability to generate points off of free throws.  When Belinelli is playing, the Hornets draw 4 less free throws over 48 minutes – which wipes out any advantage they gain from his shooting percentages.

As for the rest of the offensive end, Marco was generally a neutral force.  The team rebounds .3% less often on the offensive end, turns the ball over .13 times less often, and generates .4 more assists.

So you can take all these numbers and if you feel charitable, classify Marco as a minor negative offensively.  I wouldn’t, but you could if you wanted.


The basic answer for Marco’s defensive prowess is the fact that he posted the team’s worst personal defensive rating.  When he played, the Hornets gave up 104.5 points per 100 possessions.  When he was off the court, the Hornets posted a 98.6.   Yeah.  98.6.

To dig in a little, opponents converted shots at 45.1% with Marco playing as opposed to 43.5% when he was off the court.  Opponents also shot the three at 32.4% rather than the 30.5% they produced when he sat.

What’s more, opposing teams earned 4.1 more shots over the course of a game with Marco playing.  Part of that was that the Hornets forced 1.5 fewer turnovers with Marco out there – but he also was abysmal helping out on the boards, and opponents managed to rebound 28.5% of their missed shots – as opposed to the 25.5% they averaged when he was off the court.  Not good.

Let Marco go to China

Seriously.  That’s probably what his talent level deserves. The team with Marco posted a point differential of -6.4 over 100 possessions.  When he sat, they posted a -0.1.  Right.  They became a .500 team.

You want to know why Eric Gordon seemed to turn this team around so much?  It wasn’t just that Gordon is a great player(which he is) – it was because he pushed Marco to the bench for most of the game.  You want an equivalent replacement on this team?  Replace Trevor Ariza with Kevin Durant.

Marco’s got to go.

What do you think?


  1. Pingback: Marco Belinelli: Hornets writer breaks down Belinelli’s season

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