Aran Smith of NBADraft.net already shared his thoughts with the GSoM community on Warrior rookie forward Brandan Wright. Up next is the man the Warriors took with the 18th pick in this past draft Marco Belinelli.
With all the summer league hype, the offseason praise from Nellie, and the Warriors marketing lacing the racks of the Warriors team store with #18 jerseys before you can say Belinelli three times fast, who would've thought at this point in the season Marco would have 31 points (23.9% FG, 29.2% 3pt), 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 7 turnovers, 3 steals, and 0 blocks-- TOTAL?
He's usually wearing a fly Italian suit, but he looks fly here too!
(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
We play a little Marco polo after the jump with Aran.
Golden State of Mind: After being touted as a draft day steal and making some serious noise in the Vegas summer leagues, Belinelli seemed to come back down to earth in the preseason and so far in the regular season. Was his performance in the summer league a mirage? Does Belinelli have a long way to go and a lot of work to do before he becomes an impact player in the NBA or do you think that will happen this season? What averages (points, fg%, 3pt%, rebounds, assists : turnovers, and steals) do you see him collecting in his rookie season?
Aran Smith (NBADraft.net): A mirage? No way. Summer league play can be deceiving, but this is a player who proved he could be a successful pro in Europe, and hung with the best in the world starting for Italy at the World Championships in Japan (2006) against the USA team. Belinelli showed a ton of promise in the summer league and just needs to time to become adjusted to the speed and athleticism of the NBA. With Monta and Kelenna, there's a bit of a logjam at the position so it's difficult for him to get minutes. He's a special talent and I still believe they got an absolute steal, he's just had a rough start to his rookie season. Right now it doesn't appear as though he will get significant enough minutes to put up meaningful stats, but as the season goes along I think he will start to see more action and possibly be a contributor off the bench when the playoffs roll around.
Golden State of Mind: Last year when the Warriors went on that amazing 16-5 run to make the playoffs Nellie went super small and super fast with Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, Jason Richardson, Stephen Jackson, and Al Harrington. They were arguably one of the fastest starting 5's of all time. If Nellie decides to go that route again at some point during this season does Belinelli have the footspeed and quickness to run and gun with BD, Monta, Jax, and Al?
Aran Smith (NBADraft.net): Yeah I don't see any reason why he can't play Nellie ball and run with those guys. He isn't as fleet of foot, but he's not exactly a slug. He is more of a liability on the defensive end where opponents are able to drive past him or back him down. Similar to the way the Warriors recently abused JJ Redick. Belinelli just needs to get stronger and learn how to better defend his position. He may never be a great defender, but he'll improve from where he is now and become far less a liability than someone like Redick.
Golden State of Mind: Fellow Italian Andrea Bargnani went #1 in the 2006 NBA Draft, but that class is widely believed to be much weaker than the 2007 crop. How do Belinelli and Bargnani's games compare? When it's all said and done which Italian sharpshooter do you see having a more fruitful NBA career?
Aran Smith (NBADraft.net): That's sort of comparing apples and oranges since they play different positions, but both players have a tremendous skill level and scoring ability and neither is a great defender. As much as I love Belinelli, Bargnani is 7-feet and a tremendous shooter. It will be hard for Nellie2 to end up as good. But I wouldn't rule out the possibility. Bargnani is already established, having one impressive rookie season under his belt. He has struggled so far in his sophomore season to improve his numbers, but he's been battling some nagging injuries. He is already a solid NBA player, so he clearly has less downside. Belinelli has yet to even prove he can even make it in the NBA. His skill level and effortless shooting stroke is reminiscent of early Peja, only Belinelli has great passing and better athletic ability. Belinelli's ability to successfully make the adjustment to the speed and athleticism of NBA 2-guards and bring his defense up to speed will determine his long term success.
We've still got Aran's preview of the 2008 NBA Draft on tap, but make sure to check out his thoughts on Brandan Wright if you haven't already.