I think it was a good idea for the Charlotte Hornets to trade the No. 22 pick in the 2016 NBA draft to Sacramento for Marco Belinelli, which is what they unofficially did before the draft started Thursday night.
The No. 22 pick is a crapshoot. Here’s a list of the past five picks at No. 22 – Victor Claver, Elliott Williams, Kenneth Faried, Fab Melo and Mason Plumlee.
Belinelli? He has one primary skill that has kept him in the NBA for nine seasons. He can really shoot. He is a career 38-percent shooter from 3-point range and won the 3-point shooting championship in 2014 during All-Star Weekend, overcoming a field that included Steph Curry.
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Belinelli is not a great NBA player, as evidenced by the fact he has played for six teams in those nine years. And he’s 30 and had a relatively bad season in 2015-16. But he can help the Hornets spread the floor, and he will provide shooting insurance for a team with so many free agents. He’s going to give you somewhere between nine and 11 points a game – he has averaged about that each of the past six seasons.
This trade also tells you everything you need to know about how dimly the Hornets view Jeremy Lamb and that ill-advised contract extension. And it makes me think Courtney Lee isn’t coming back.
Once the deal becomes official in early July, the Hornets will assume Belinelli’s contract for the next two seasons at more than $6 million per year.
The 6-foot-5 Italian has an NBA championship ring, which he won as a key reserve with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014. He’s not a spectacular pickup – and the age and salary combo make it a gamble – but I think it’s better than whatever Charlotte would have gotten at No. 22.