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2010-11 Season in Review: Marco Belinelli
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
June 23, 2011

Hornets.com continues its look back at the 2010-11 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:

WHAT HAPPENED:

After struggling to earn playing time or a consistent rotation spot in his three previous NBA seasons with Golden State and Toronto, Belinelli emerged as New Orleans starting shooting guard during the 2010 preseason. He maintained that job for the bulk of 2010-11, paired with point guard Chris Paul in the backcourt. Belinelli was temporarily moved to a second-string role behind Willie Green at shooting guard for 11 games between Feb. 9 and March 9, but he returned to the starting lineup for the final 19 regular season contests and all six playoff games vs. the Lakers.

Overall, the 6-foot-5 native of Italy played significantly more than he ever had since being chosen as a first-round pick in 2007. Belinelli set career-bests in a multitude of categories, including nearly doubling his previous high for minutes played (1,957) in a single season. In fact, if you add up his time on the floor over his first three years in the NBA, it totaled 2,241 minutes, just 286 more than he logged in 2010-11 alone. He proved to be very durable in his first legitimate chance to start, missing only two games all season to injury (due to a mid-January right ankle sprain).

Belinelli, who was acquired from Toronto in a trade straight up for Julian Wright last August, was the Hornets most accurate three-point shooter, connecting on 41.4 percent of his attempts during the regular season. His 134 makes from long distance topped New Orleans by a substantial margin. Despite a few rough stretches, first-year head coach Monty Williams repeatedly showed confidence in Belinelli, one of the teams most diligent workers at the Alario Center practice facility.

Marco had some really good games for us this year, general manager Dell Demps assessed. He brings it every night and is not afraid to take the tough shot. If you look at it, his body of work and his history, this was really the first time hes had consistent minutes. I thought Monty really stuck with him. Marco was so appreciative.

Belinelli not only received his first chance to regularly start in 2010-11, but also made his NBA playoff debut after missing the postseason as a member of the Warriors and Raptors. Facing the two-time defending champion Lakers who devoted considerable attention to trying to slow down Chris Paul Belinelli struggled to make perimeter shots. Over the six games, his percentages dipped to 36.5 from the floor and 30.8 from three-point range.

BEST GAME:

New Orleans went 3-1 in the four regular season games in which Belinelli tallied 20 points or more. Among those three victories, the most impressive win occurred March 9, when Belinelli helped the Hornets edge the eventual NBA champion Dallas Mavericks by a 93-92 margin. With Chris Paul sidelined by a concussion he sustained three days earlier in Cleveland, Jarrett Jack started at point guard and Green was moved temporarily into the starting lineup. Belinelli came off the bench to tally 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting, including 4-for-7 accuracy from three-point range. Incidentally, Belinellis season-best in scoring was 23 points in a loss vs. Boston.

WHAT'S NEXT:

Belinelli is a restricted free agent, allowing the Hornets to re-sign him if they match any contract offers he receives from other NBA teams. A few days after the teams Game 6 elimination at the hands of the Lakers, Demps sounded optimistic about Belinellis NBA future.

Before he left to go back to Italy (for the summer), we had a great talk, Demps said. From the day we made the trade (last summer), he called me from Italy and he said, Im going to give you everything Ive got. Anything you guys want from me, just let me know.

He did everything he could in his ability. Were very happy with Marco. On his way out, he was so appreciative of the fans for embracing him, the coaching staff, the city and management. So hes one of those guys you root for. This was really his first full season of getting consistent minutes. I think hell be better next year.


ADDITIONAL 2010-11 SEASON IN REVIEWS
DAVID WEST AARON GRAY EMEKA OKAFOR
QUINCY PONDEXTER CARL LANDRY CHRIS PAUL
JARRETT JACK JASON SMITH TREVOR ARIZA
MARCO BELINELLI WILLIE GREEN




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