If you haven’t been keeping up with this, do yourself a favour, do. Not just because I’m involved, but the Doubting Thomas Award process at NBA Mate has been absolutely gold. To refresh your memory, Rob has been compiling monthly updates from across the league on different players that have been doubted in the past and who are about to break out this season. I’ve been updating the world on the exploits of Italy’s fourth best Rocky impersonator: Marco Belinelli.

Below I’ve extracted my Belinelli update, but you really should be wiling your way across the internets to NBA Mate to check out the full Doubting Thomas Awards December Update. As you can imagine, bottom of the bench guys provide some of the best comedy fodder out there.

#6 (5)

Marco Belinelli

Games played: 14 Games started: 0
Minutes per game: 18.3 DNP’s: 0
Best game: 15 points (6-8 shooting), 5 rebounds, 3 assists vs UTA (18/11)
Averages: 6.8ppg, 1.4rpg, 1.1apg, 0.9spg, 0.0bpg, 36.7%FG, 36.4% 3PT
Dare you Doubt?: So the one-month Summer League drop-off wasn’t as epic as I expected, but at this rate Beli looks headed for the cellar

I’m not going to lie to you. Our Spaghetti Western hero, the Bolognese rockstar Marco Belinelli, has regressed a little on his promising opening to the season. I’m not saying that it’s all doom and gloom though — he is by far surpassing his restricted and inconsistent performance in Golden State. It’s just that his offensive firepower has dropped off a little, statistically speaking.

The interesting thing is that this slight regression has come at the same time as a slight improvement of the fortunes of Beli’s team. The Raptors have managed to crack the .500 mark in December games, after a November that was less than satisfactory by the standards of the talented roster they have.

So, why the regression? Shooting. Beli’s shooting has been a little off during December, with his field goal percentage at 36.8%, down on his career average of 42.0% (which is about what he did in October/November). He’s had a corresponding drop in scoring too — down about 2 points on his November average.

“Who cares!?!?” you may be saying. And this is true, I don’t want to bore you with minor misgivings in statistics. After all, I can’t forget that we are talking about a bench player and a potential Doubting Thomas Award winner here — not Brandon Roy (yep, I’m a Blazers fan). So what I’m going to do is point out a couple of more interesting things about Beli.

I’ve known a few Italians in my time (indeed, I have that heritage in my blood) and there are two key Italian characteristics that shine through in Marco’s statistics. The first is the love of travel. Yes, since Roman times the Italians have been known as great travellers of the world. No doubt you know people of Italian heritage where you are and have seen countless Italian tourists in your city. They get around. Beli is a shining example of that love of the road, as he averages literally double his home average on the road — up from 4.9ppg to 9.8ppg. All of his shooting percentages are way up on the road as well. Has bag; will travel.

The other thing I know about Italians — they love the nightlife. They can be up til all hours (try living with them — trust me). Once again, Beli shines through in this regard. His average in day games this season: 3.4ppg. In night games: 8.5ppg. Throw those numbers in your calculator and tell me which one is higher.

Something else you might give a bit of credit to Beli for, is the fact that he has managed to put in this level of effort for the Raptors all whilst preparing for his upcoming movie. “What? A movie?” you say. And I reply, “yes.” In fact, 2010 will see the release of his movie The Expendables and 2011 will see his next movie in a long series, Rambo V: The Savage Hunt. You think I’m fibbing? Well check out this picture for proof.

belinelli rocky

January is a new year and a new decade for Beli. If he can continue his role as a solid scorer off the bench for the Raps, he’ll continue to get his chances. His breakout is imminent, in a Jerryd Bayless-type way. And just look out when the Raptors face a team with Apollo Creed at power forward.

Check out the full Doubting Thomas Awards December Update