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. da ThRONe

    May 26, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    After those stats I think the answer is pretty obvious.

  2. James McPherson

    May 26, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Wowzer. As much as I root for Marco … those stats are pretty damning.

  3. Hornets_Junkie

    May 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    No way!!! He is the Scott Shanle of the New Orleans Hornets. If he stays so how he will start 30 plus games and that would be just unbearable to watch. I rather see Xavier Henry struggle then watch another second of Marco Belinelli. Let’s not get caught up in his late season performance. The guy misses more open jumpers then I can stand. He is suppose to some kind of a sharp shooter for the Hornets but the problem is he never hits any of his shots when we need them the most. Plus his ball handling is suspect at best.

  4. StefanC

    May 26, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    But… But… But… This guy is strong enough to stop a tank all by himself!

    How can we let that go!?

  5. Durel

    May 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Hmmmm…. King Joffery Reference, Nice!
    Anyway, I like Marco “as a back-up” Belinelli’s game. You can never have enough shooters and you know what your getting from the guy. Plus it sounds like we can get him cheap which is always a good thing.

  6. Trigga

    May 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm


  7. sundance

    May 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Wow why am I not surprised by this.

    I don’t understand how some use numbers as the end all and be all in determining a player’s worth. If Ryan was the GM, this Hornets team would have the equivalent of Jarrett Jack for each position and I’m still pretty sure it wouldn’t add up to a winning team. You can say he’s not really great at anything but it’s wrong to say he actually hurts the team. For what it’s worth, he was in the league’s top 20 in terms of 3pters made/attempted. He did what he was supposed to do which was spread the floor. Then Monty expanded his role this season, and had him play not only off-guard but point-guard and small forward, which probably hurt his stats defensively. So according to this argument it’s in the Hornets best interests they should not re-sign Marco. There are going to be a number of teams who will try to add a 3pt shooter this offseason. Marco is young, he comes fairly cheap, and he has a good relationship with the coach. If you subtract him from the team, you lose the only 3pt threat this team has. There really is no one else on this team who can replace that and I’m pretty sure a quality FA would only come with a higher price tag.

    • Ryan Schwan

      May 26, 2012 at 6:49 pm

      Not sure why Marco gets a pass on everything he does terribly because he can shoot three pointers. Especially when he shoots them at a barely above average rate for a shooting guard.

      I’m also not suggesting the Hornets replace Marco with someone on the team. There are other NBA players out there – and there’s quite a number of them who can shoot three pointers better than Marco can – and, you know, not suck at almost everything else.

      As for Jarrett Jack, I’ve certainly never done an advanced stats evaluation of him. You can be sure I’ll weigh in on that at some point in the next couple weeks.

      • sundance

        May 26, 2012 at 11:23 pm

        I don’t mean to call out Jarrett, it’s just that I think he’s a good example of someone who racks up numbers without affecting the outcome of a game. Stats is a useful tool sure, but then again I’m not a math person. I understand basketball though (and love to play) and watch it alot. Maybe I’m wrong but I do think the importance of stats is kind of overblown myself.

      • macs21

        May 28, 2012 at 12:29 am

        I think Ryans point was that he sucks despite his numbers going up post all-star.

        While the advanced stats he’s used to represent marcos general ineffectiveness have a correlation to his raw numbers it’s possible to have great numbers and poor advanced stats. Think Monta Ellis on the warriors. Or Melo before April.

        I think you’ll find something very similar for J Jack if Ryan does and advanced stats analysis of him too despite his numbers being far superior to Marco’s at first glance.

  8. Jason Calmes

    May 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    I like the guy.

    I like other people who are not as good at their job as others are at the same job, too.

    We should bring him back if no one better is available. A similar thing is true for… everyone.

  9. Paul

    May 26, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    I think Marco would be fine as a backup on most other teams, but I can’t see him being of much use to the Hornets with how injury prone Gordon (if re-signed) is.

  10. Mason Ginsberg

    May 26, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Fantastic work, Ryan. Great read right here.

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

  12. Mr. West

    May 26, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    I’ve always sort of liked Marco, but its hard to argue in his favor after that article. I wonder how much better Chris Paul made this guy? And I also wonder how these stats would look if Marco was a full time backup, instead of starting most games. Would his on again off again offense be better off the bench, because I know his defense would improve if for no other reason than going against backups instead of starters. Then again, with Gordon as our starting 2 guard, we might need someone who can step in and play starter level D for a few games, considering Gordon will probably miss a few.

    One thing is for sure though: Marco is putting up better stats than Juju right now.

    • 504ever

      May 27, 2012 at 11:07 am

      Completely agree, Mr. West, with your point about Beli’s stat’s looking better if he came off of the bench rather than was a starter. Beli is clearly a 2nd team player, so of course his stats look bad as a starter. That doesn’t mean Beli shouldn’t be resigned as a back-up, at back-up dollars. Playing against lesser competition would do wonders for Beli’s stats.

      I also want to address statistical anomolies. Beli was the “iron man” of the team in terms of minutes played. When he sat, who took his place? Sometimes it was Gordon, so of course the team looks much better statistically when Gordon was in; the Hornets were literally a different team when Gordon played. The 21-45 Hornets were 6-3 when Gordon played and 15-42 without Gordon!

      I think the ‘Gordon effect’ should be stripped out of the statistics used in the analysis. Of the nearly 1200 minutes Beli didn’t play this season, Gordon played over 300 of them or 26%. You think the ‘Gordon effect’ could account for a lot of the differences in the Hornets with/without Beli playing? I sure do.

      Does anyone think Beli was healthy the entire season? Or do you think he was injured and played thru injuries, which is why Monty praised him so much (and criticised Landry when Landry sat out)? Could injuries have negatively affected Beli’s level of play this year, too?

      What about Beli gettting the ball late in the shot clock and having to shoot? Playing out of position at PG some this year? [So versitile to also play SG last year in the playoffs against the Lakers?] Could that negatively effect his statistics, too?

      My point is there are reasons why Beli looks better to the eye test that when viewed purely thru stats, which I have tried to explain above.

      But the real test is name a player you would be able to sign for around $3M/year who you would rather have than Marco Belinelli. The article didn’t and I can’t.

      • 504ever

        June 1, 2012 at 4:54 pm

        Just saw Monty saying today that “Smith and Belinelli” were posters for the quality of the player development program the Hornets have instituted. He was citing player development as a reason players would come to the Hornets. Don’t see how the Hornets release either ‘poster’, Smith or Beli. In fact it sounds like the Hornets may want to lock Beli up for a few more years.

      • sharpitoulas

        June 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm

        right on, 504ever. just to add… the per 48 minute stat is an assumption, not fact. can’t wait for the day it is rendered useless. to use it for a guy who averaged less than 30 a game is ridiculous. like saying if i worked 24 hours a day compared to 12, i’d make 2x the $$.

    • Jason Calmes

      May 27, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      Love the last line.

      Very relevant for last year and this. Diminishing effect going forward, but we did well with that trade.

  13. Tyler

    May 26, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Yes, he should definitely be re-signed.

  14. Michael McNamara

    May 27, 2012 at 6:02 am

    My only argument on the other side would be:

    What if the Hornets would have tossed out Jason Smith like many of us wanted them to?

    Players improve if they can stay in the same system, get the backing of a staff, etc. and eventually they grow. If Marco gets bounced to his 4th team, I doubt he ever becomes a legit player, but if he can get a nice deal close to what Smitty got and have that security, maybe he can make a similar improvement in his game.

    Remember, I was the guy who said back in January (on the Bold Predictions segment in our podcast) that Marco will be playing in Europe next year, but there is something to be said for having a guy on your roster who never complains, doesn’t act like a diva or question the coach about mins. or rotations, and gives his all every time on the court. And outside of those intangibles, I still there there is room for tangible growth. I offer him 2 years/4 million with a team option for a third year at 2.5 million. I would expect him to turn it down, but if he says yes, I think he makes an Elite 5th guard. (wink at Ryan)

  15. Tyler

    May 27, 2012 at 8:22 am

    You never subtract good players on your team. Yes, we all know the stats of his game, but lets not forget his improvement over the course of a shortened season with NO time for training camp and practices. The guy is a good player that needs a specific role and minutes. If he is re-signed (he will) I guarantee you he’ll improve his game dramatically. This team needs stability and consistency with its players.

  16. Lucas Ottoni

    May 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Marco Belinelli is a poor player. He’s just a backup and isn’t essential to our roster and I don’t think the Hornets would lose time to re-sign with the italian. However, Monty loves Marco, called him a “monster” in a interview and praised his work ethic. I don’t care about work ethic. He’s two years ago in New Orleans and his work ethic didn’t be a better player. If depend on me, bye bye Marco!

  17. SKIELE

    May 27, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    ryan you sure know better than monty. I’d say you must get the head coah job right now.

  18. Chuck

    May 27, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    I watched about half the Hornets games this year and last year. I feel like I never saw Marco hit more than 1 three in a game.

    Forget the stats, just by the eye test I think he should be gone. He isn’t a good defender, he has very low basketball IQ (takes shots early in the clock when he’s “feeling it” and doesn’t hit teammates when they’re open), and he doesn’t contribute anything other than (allegedly) scoring/shooting.

    Also, someone made the point of who could you sign that’s better with 3M per year. Well, Marco has hit his peak, I’m pretty confident about that. He’s had consistent big minutes for 2 years and hasn’t gotten any better, unlike Jason Smith who visibly improved a ton with more PT. We could spend that money on a young player (or purchasing a draft pick) to develop.

    I’ve said for a while that on a contending team, Marco would be an end-of-the-bench guy. Seriously, on one of the four teams remaining would he ever see any minutes? MAYBE on Boston due to their injuries, but otherwise no way.

  19. Scott

    May 27, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Watching Bellinelli this year I’d say you have to let him go. However, knowing all the obstacles he had to deal with I’ll cut him a little slack. Offer him a a small deal like 2-3 mil/ yr for 2 years and let him backup Gordon while Henry develops. Also find a specific role for him, like put him in for a few minutes aganst the backups and let him jack up a couple of threes to see if he’s hot or not. If he’s cold pull him, but if he’s hot leave him in let Gordon get some rest.

    I hated watching him this year as much as anybody, and honestly I’ll probably never forgive him for that layup against Golden State (WE COULD HAVE BEEN TIED FOR 2ND!!!!!) But depending on who we draft and who we sign in Free Agency we need as much shooting as we can get. Unless, of course, Aminu’s shot starts bouning off the ceiling and going in.

  20. macs21

    May 28, 2012 at 12:38 am

    As for people we could get for less than 3 mil.

    How about Doron Lamb or John Jenkins? Both of them will be last first rounders (20-25) and will most likely be better shooters than Marco. Jenkins also projects to be a solid wing defender. Lambs a bit harder to predict on the defensive end as he was UK’s 4th best perimeter defender and rarely had to defend anyone dynamic or explosive.

    I suppose it’s just a question of what we’d have to bring in/send out to get a 20ish pick. I’d definitely do a draft day trade with Goose for the 20th pick and Cash if we get T-rob or Davis.. We’d still have Kaman/Okafor, J-Smitty, Landry + 1st pick PF in the rotation.

  21. scan

    May 28, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Marco should not be resigned. Played worse this year than the year before.

    Go sign Steve Novak if you want a shooter!

  22. NOS-3RD GEN

    May 28, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    From what most of ya’ll say, ya’ll wouldn’t want Beli because of stats,defense, value and decision making on the court, but I say Beli should be resigned, just so later in the season we can trade him for value or another 3-p shooter. Maybe on draft night they should trade him along with other players as well to gain a player like Rondo, Augustine, R.Anderson, or Rubio. In the month of December. We need to make smart, big, & valuable trades to make our team better in order to surpass big team like the Spurs, Bulls, Thunders,Celtics, and finally the Heat

  23. kempleton

    May 29, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Check out the recent winners of the 6th man award! Harden, Odom, Crawford, Terry, Ginobili, Barbosa, Miller, Gordon, Jamison, Jackson. 6 out of 10 of those players are shooting guards! 5 out of last 6 are shooting guards!! And all 5 of those players have seen at least conference semis with their teams! That is how important a backup SG is and can be.

    So, I think we need a more aggressive SG off the bench. Look at Harden and Ginobili. They are game changers.

    So, I do not think Marco “should” be resigned. However, he has been in coach Monty’s system for 2 years now. If we want him as a placeholder until we find our 6th man(!) SG, then we “might” sign him cheap for a short-term contract.

    • kempleton

      May 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      Correction: 7 out of last 10 6th man award winners are Shooting Guards: Harden, Crawford, Terry, Ginobili, Barbosa, Gordon, B. Jackson

      That’s how important a back-up SG is!

      • kempleton

        May 29, 2012 at 1:28 pm

        One last comment: As I said earlier, if we can find that SG who can be our sixth man, that’s great! Otherwise, keeping Belinelli for a reasonable price “should” be seriously considered. 🙂

  24. Rocco

    May 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Marco’s stats improved from his first season as a hornet in points per game and rebounding. Both bettered career highs.

    He shot a shade under percentage wise from 3 pt range (41% in 10-11 and 37.5% in 11-13).

    For you Beli-achers, is this guy’s soo bad, how did he manage to start more games than any other Hornet the past two seasons? Monty’s an idiot right?

    You play what you have, if NOLA improves its roster fine, don’t resign him, but for now he is a ROCK SOLID part of what rotation that team has.

    For those of you who complain about his defense, do you ignore the numerous blow buys allowed by Jack, Vasquez, and Henry? Yes, you could do better at the 2, but be prepared to open up the checkbook.

    With Beli you get a shooter wo doesn’t need lots of plays run for him, he typically get his opportunities late in the clock ( after the offense has pissed away the first 18-20 seconds) and poorer percentage shots.

    He started the games he did because he’s been the best NOLA could get under the circumstances. And, wishing the situation were different, without getting more talented personnel (and spending the money to do so) doesn’t change the facts.

  25. JP

    May 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    you forgot the most important stat — average spaghetti produced per pre-game!!!! he always has the best carbo loading pasta dinners !!

    • Josh

      May 30, 2012 at 1:01 am

      He actually doesn’t like Italian food.

  26. Tyler

    June 1, 2012 at 3:01 am

    A lot of these guys on here don’t even have a clue about basketball. Lol!

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