During the off-season, the Chicago Bulls traded away three-point specialist Kyle Korver to the Atlanta Hawks. This move continued to diminish the bench-mob that Chicago relied on when it came time to rest their starters. They traded Korver, and on July 24th they signed another three-point specialist: Marco Belinelli, a free agent from the New Orleans Hornets. While both players share similar skill sets, many fans question whether it was a wise move to, in essence, replace one shooter with another.
Belinelli entered the league in 2007 after playing overseas in Italy for several years. Immediately upon his arrival, he was bounced around between several teams spending no more than two years in each of his destinations. Last year with the Hornets, Belinelli averaged 11.8 points per game while shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc and playing an average of 29 minutes a game. When compared to Korver, who averaged 8.1 points per game and shot 43 percent from long distance during an average of 22 minutes per game, it is clear that they share very similar numbers. But the numbers don’t tell the entire story, both these players have advantages and disadvantages to them.
Korver, who averages less points and minutes per game than Belinelli while shooting better from the field and from long range, has been with the Bulls since 2010 and has been an integral part to their success over the past two years. His role of coming off the bench to provide Chicago with points was what helped coach Tom Thibodeau rest his starters with confidence. Since Korver entered the league in 2003, he has often been criticized about his lack of defensive ability, and even under Thibodeau’s system he seemed to struggle more times than not. But he knew the system and played it to his advantages, his chemistry with his teammates both on the bench and on the floor helped him become a noticeably better player since his arrival in Chicago.
While Belinelli shot worse than Korver last season, the numbers that should stand out are his points per game and his minutes per game. Not only does he average more than Korver, but he has been relied on to play longer per game than Korver. Those extra minutes of game time allow him to spend that much more time scoring and threatening the opponents defense.
If coach Thibodeau chooses to return to the formula of the bench-mob, then Belinelli’s advantage in minutes per game wont matter much since he will be taking the court with the rest of the second unit. He is smaller and lighter guard than Korver, which can work to his advantage depending on how coach Thibodeau plans on playing him. If he plans on running him off the ball as a catch-and-shoot type player then he will succeed but ig he expects him to do more then his disadvantage in height and weight might be his Achilles heel.
Although Belinelli excels in some categories that Korver doesn’t, Korver excels in the ones that matter more. Shooting percentage is an important factor and the reason why the bench mob was so deadly. By replacing Korver with a lower percentage shooter who doesn’t know the system and has not done much to impress during the preseason and regular season, I think it is safe to say that trading Korver was not a wise decision.