By Shams Charania/RealGM
DEERFIELD, Ill. – Marco Belinelli signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Bulls over the offseason, but he anticipates sharing the backcourt with Derrick Rose for seasons to come.
When Belinelli heard Rose declare him the most impressive newcomer, he was ecstatic, giving him assurance that the duo has the potential to sustain a successful backcourt not only this season, but for the foreseeable future.
“I’m here because I want to stay here long,” Belinelli told RealGM after Wednesday evening’s practice. “I want to win and I want to improve my game. And it’s amazing to hear [Rose’s compliment]. For me, to hear something like that from the MVP of the team and one of the best players in the league, it’s unbelievable.”
This won’t be the first time that Belinelli has been placed alongside an elite point guard. He had the best shooting season of his six-year NBA career in 2010-11 when he was next to Chris Paul in the backcourt, hitting almost 44 percent from the field and 41 percent from three-point range.
In Paul and Rose, Belinelli sees the best point guards in the league – superstars who effortlessly weave through opposing defenses to generate offense for themselves and teammates. While Rose will miss most of this season due to a torn ACL, Belinelli believes the youngest MVP in league history will seamlessly get him into the offensive set and open up the floor for uncontested jump shots.
“[Rose and Paul] are the two best point guards in the league, that’s for sure,” Belinelli said. “I played one year with CP, and for me everything was a little bit easier because of his penetration and finding me for three-point shots. I can’t wait to play with D. Rose.
“Maybe D. Rose is more stronger. He goes in the paint [a lot] so I’m going to be ready to take shots. Every team is going to double team him or put three, four guys, so I’m going to take my shots or create some penetration for my teammates.”
Belinelli will serve as Rip Hamilton’s backup heading into preseason, as Tom Thibodeau announced during Wednesday morning’s session. Hamilton admittedly is in much better shape now than he was entering last season’s lockout-shortened campaign. His standing as the starting shooting guard, however, is not as stable as it was a year ago, and it isn’t beyond possibility that Belinelli takes the spot at some point this season.
Belinelli, for his part, is just working to get acclimated to Thibodeau’s system on both ends of the court and is confident he’ll receive ample opportunity to further increase his minutes once exhibition games start next week.
“I’m the new guy,” Belinelli said, “[so] I’m just going to try to do my best to play a lot of minutes and help this team win games.
“This team is a great team and we want to do something big.”