With Kyle Korver gone, Marco Belinelli is expected to fill outside void for Bulls
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org October 4, 2012 9:44PM
Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose, left, guards Golden State Warriors' Marco Belinelli, of Italy, in the first half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, Nov. 21, 2008, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Updated: November 6, 2012 6:33AM
With Kyle Korver traded to the Hawks in the offseason, the Bulls were in need of a long-range shooter.
They’re hoping Marco Belinelli can fill that outside void.
Belinelli, who has played with the Warriors, Raptors and Hornets, said he used to wake up at 2 a.m. to watch Michael Jordan on TV in Italy.
“Yes, with my brother, with my father, that was part of life,’’ Belinelli said Thursday. “Of course, Michael Jordan. I remember all the big shots he made. I remember he was sick [in the ’97 NBA Finals] and scored . He’s the man.’’
Not known as a defensive stopper, Belinelli is in for a rude awakening under coach Tom Thibodeau, who will demand better defense from him. But his main function will be as a perimeter threat.
“I think we can be good; I’m hopeful we can,’’ Thibodeau said of the Bulls’ three-point shooting. “You never think you have enough shooting, and it’s something that you constantly have to work on, but [Belinelli has] shown the last couple of years that he’s been very capable from the three-point line, so we need that to open up the floor.’’
Besides Belinelli and his career .393 shooting percentage from three-point range, the Bulls added Vladimir Radmanovic (.380) and Kirk Hinrich (.378) to contribute in that department.
Even backup point guard Nate Robinson is a threat from outside with a career .354 three-point percentage.
“The three is an important part of the game,’’ Thibodeau said. “I think we were fourth in the league in three-point field-goal percentage last year.
“I think that’s a big part of what we’re going to do.’’
The long-range shooting will become even more deadly once point guard Derrick Rose returns and draws double teams, which will lead to more open looks for the shooters.
“Star players tend to draw more attention, which makes things easier for others,’’ Thibodeau said.
That’s where Belinelli comes in. The 6-5 shooting guard isn’t trying to be Korver. He thinks he’s more versatile.
“I’m going to try to score three-pointers, but I’m going to try to do everything I can for us to win the game,’’ Belinelli said. “I can dribble the ball better than Kyle Korver, but I just want to be me. I just want to improve every time.
‘‘I will take three-point shots, but if I have to dribble the ball and create my shot, I’m going to do that.’’
First things first. Before any of the new faces are ready for the opener on Halloween night, they’d better get the defensive side of their game tight.
“Everybody knows in the NBA that this is the team that you are going to have to play a lot of defense,’’ Belinelli said. “But this is the perfect spot for me.
“This is a dream for me.’’