Like most Chicago Bulls fans, I was upset when Kyle Korver left town and like, many fans I was skeptical with the arrival of Marco Belinelli from the New Orleans Hornets. I didn’t expect much, and I saw the acquisition and nothing more than Chicago’s front office scrambling to fill in the missing pieces on the roster.
Through this season, we have seen the highs and lows of Belinelli’s play, and I think it’s safe to say that he found the confidence he had in New Orleans here in Chicago. His new air of confidence and his ability to create his own shot make him a valuable asset to the team, and thus begs the question of whether or not he should remain the starter when Richard Hamilton returns to the lineup.
First, for those who don’t know, Hamilton has missed the last six games with another injury. This time it’s his back that is keeping him sidelined, and brings his total to 18 total games missed out of 63 games played.
Game winners attest to one thing: confidence. His teammates trust him to take the last shot, and his confidence and ability to do so is represents the firepower and shooting options that Chicago has desperately needed.
In a side-by-side comparison between Belinelli and Hamilton, they both average about the same stats in the major categories of points, assists and rebounds. Belinelli holds a one point advantage in PER, but he has also done something Hamilton hasn’t had to do, which is work himself up to where he is now.
When he was traded to Chicago, the former Hornets starter was met with a bench role, and a minor one at that. Only through Hamilton’s absence was he able to work his way into the rotation and establish himself as a regular contributor.
Belinelli also has another quality that Hamilton hasn’t displayed this year: durability. Belinelli has only missed two games this season for the Bulls, and has made it apparent that he is capable of playing heavy minutes in games. Partner his durability with Tom Thibodeau’s system of heavy minutes for his starters, and it becomes clear why Belinelli should be given the starting position.
We see it often in professional sports: a player who never has the opportunity to succeed because his predecessor is never consistently healthy or injured. This was the case with Belinelli. He has established a rhythm, and will only continue to improve if he doesn’t have to play cat and mouse with Hamilton’s injuries.
Hamilton is 35 and past his prime. I’d rather see him come off the bench for 20 minutes a night and stay healthy, as opposed to the situation where a 26 year old Belinelli has to make the most out of a slim opportunity.
Hamilton cannot handle the minutes Thibodeau wants him to play; Belinelli can, and should be allowed the chance to when Hamilton returns. If nothing else, it will give Chicago a consistent scorer in their slow offense.