Marco Belinelli Should Start For the Charlotte Hornets

Nov 23, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Marco Belinelli (3) shoots a three point shot against Charlotte Hornets forward P.J. Hairston (19) during the first half at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 23, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Marco Belinelli (3) shoots a three point shot against Charlotte Hornets forward P.J. Hairston (19) during the first half at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports /

Even though Marco Belinelli will be entering his first season with the Charlotte Hornets, he should start at small forward for the team this year.

When the Charlotte Hornets traded their first round pick to the Sacramento Kings for Marco Belinelli, many questioned the move. Sure it was a late-first round pick but it was still a first round pick. Most don’t know what to expect from Belinelli, but he may be key for the team this season.

Marco has been known as a knockdown three-point shooting threat but his defense has always been lacking throughout his career. The NBA has developed into a league where you must be able to shoot from deep to succeed. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is expected to be the starting small forward for Charlotte this season even though he has been a liability from the outside.

MKG’s outstanding athleticism, hustle, and perimeter defense has made him a favorite of Steve Clifford, the Hornets’ organization, and the fans. He has earned his starting spot even after only playing in seven games last year due to multiple shoulder injuries. Although, Marco Belinelli could make a strong case for why he should start to begin the 2016-17 season.

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Added Outside Shooting

The Charlotte Hornets were one of the top three-point shooting teams in the NBA last season. They lost a few key players from last year’s team but the addition of Belienlli will help strengthen their outside shooting. Marco is clearly a better shooter than MKG has been in the past. If he were to start over Kidd-Gilchrist, the starting unit would be that much more deadly from the outside.

Although Belinelli had a career-worst shooting season with the Kings last year, he has shot an impressive 37.9% from the three-point line for his career. MKG had some success in his outside shooting last year but that was a small sample size. Even though Marco played 68.4% of his minutes at the shooting guard position last year, at 6’5 he is big enough to play the three spot.

If Marco is inserted into the starting line-up alongside Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, and Marvin Williams, it would give the Hornets four outside shooters in the starting five. That could be a deadly line-up even though the 30-year old shooting guard/small forward does not offer the same game that MKG does. Kidd-Gilchrist may be better than Belinelli in almost every other category besides outside shooting but for that single reason, Marco should start to begin the regular season.

Even though critics point to Belinelli’s lacking defense, he only allowed opponents to shoot 43.6% from the field last season. That was better than Kemba, Nic Batum, and MKG last year.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: 12.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.3 APG, 54.1% FG/ 42.9% 3FG/ 69% FT

Marco Belinelli: 10.2 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.9 APG, 38.6% FG/ 30.6% 3FG/ 83.3% FT

Ease MKG Back From Injury

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Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is coming off of a season where he was limited to only seven games because of two serious shoulder injuries. He battled back from the first injury in only three and half months after he was expected to be out for six. MKG looked fantastic in those seven games but maybe he came back too fast from his injury because he suffered another knock to the same shoulder.

The Hornets’ training staff, Steve Clifford, and the front office may want to ease Kidd-Gilchrist back at the start of this season. Bringing him off of the bench and starting Marco Belinelli is the safest bet. It allows Michael to have freedom with the second unit and also not have the added pressure of starting games and worrying about injuries.

Clearly the Guy Clifford and Cho Wanted

There were rumors surrounding Belinelli and the Hornets last offseason when the team pursued to sign him. Marco instead signed with the Kings where he had a career-worst season. Charlotte’s general manager, Rich Cho, eventually found a way to get him to the Queen City.

Steve Clifford and Rich Cho must highly value Belinelli and now that they have acquired him, it is only right to give him ample playing time. Starting Marco to begin the 2016 campaign is the perfect way to begin the season. He gets thrown into the fire but Belinelli gets his shot immediately with the team.

After his time with the San Antonio Spurs, the Italian international has proven that he can be a valuable asset to a contending team. He could be exactly that for the Hornets whether it be starting or from the bench.

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I don’t think that Belinelli will start the first game of the year as MKG is the likely candidate. I do think that Marco should start to begin the season but as Kidd-Gilchrist gets game time under his belt, he can be eased back into he starting lineup. Belienlli would simply occupy the starting small forward spot for the Charlotte Hornets until Michael is fully recovered and ready to take that role.