Marco Belinelli came to Chicago as a replacement for the departed Kyle Korver. The six-year veteran was supposed to match Korver’s deft outside shooting touch, but also be an upgrade when it came to things like putting the ball on the floor and attacking and finishing at the rim.
Playing on his fourth team in six seasons, Belinelli started out slowly with the Bulls as he adjusted to his new teammates and Tom Thibodeau’s demanding coaching style. The entire experiment looked to be a failure through the Bulls' first 14 games of the season, but then Rip Hamilton got injured and Belinelli found himself in the staring lineup.
And he thrived.
After posting double-digit scoring nights only three times in his first 14 games as a Bull, the Italian guard scored in double figures in 10 of his first 11 games as a starter and it seemed to jump-start his offense and his confidence. Belinelli would have another 11-game streak appearing in the starting lineup and again, he would play well as it became clearer he was better as a starter as opposed to a reserve off the bench.
But in either role, Marco Belinelli had a number of big games this season as he finished with averages of 9.6 points and 2.0 assists in 73 games this season. As the season came to a close, however, Belinelli found himself relegated to strictly a bench role as Thibs made room for Jimmy Butler in the starting lineup.
In the postseason – just the second of his career – Belinelli was a key spark off the bench averaging 11.1 points per game. He was huge in Games 6 and 7 in the series against the Brooklyn Nets, and also played well in the series against the Miami Heat.
Should he return next season, Belinelli will most certainly be playing in a reserve role again. But his skills and his game seemed to be a perfect fit for the Bulls, even if it didn’t appear that way early on.
Follow Outside Shot on Twitter (@Outside_Shot) for more Bulls news and information