Danilo Gallinari has long gone under-appreciated in the NBA.
Danilo Gallinari is probably most well known for being part of the trade that brought Carmelo Anthony to New York. As the 6th overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft, the Italian is quietly having a career renaissance with Denver this season - and it’s going mostly unnoticed.
Right out of the gate, “Gallo,” had back surgery and missed most of his rookie year. But once he finally started to find his groove in year three in the NBA, he was traded away to the Denver Nuggets. Gallo has suffered through a rash of injuries with Denver that has left him a shell of what he could have been.
However, this season, the 27-year-old Italian Forward looks a new man. He is fully recovered from an ACL tear and subsequent surgery complications that kept him out for all of the 2013-14 season. He’s finally starting to put all of his abilities together to become a well-rounded player capable of carrying a team.
He is currently Denver’s leading scorer with 19.7 points per game, up from 12.4 points per game last season. He’s also stuffing the stat sheet, adding 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, with only 1.6 turnovers. His current numbers are comparable to fellow rising small forward Gordon Hayward (19.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.6 turnovers), yet Hayward is looked upon more favorably among NBA fans and talked about much more often as a rising star in the league.
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Gallinari has been incredibly aggressive this season, finding seams in the defense to the tune of 8.2 free throw attempts per game, despite his lack of quickness. He makes the most of his body and weight (6‘10”, 225 lb), finding crafty ways to get to the rack and finishing creatively. His 8.2 free throw attempts per game rank third in the league, tied with DeMar DeRozan, and trails only James Harden and Demarcus Cousins.
That’s great company to be in when it comes to driving to the paint and getting to the line. Gallo is 13th in the league in free throw percentage, knocking down 88 percent of his 8.2 attempts per game, which is a higher percentage than Harden, Cousins, or DeRozan.
In addition to his aggression in the paint, Gallo is also a threat from the perimeter. 35 percent of his shot attempts this season have been 3 pointers, and he’s shooting them at a 36.2 percent clip. 89 percent of his 3 pointers have been assisted, so he’s not really a threat to pop a 3 off the dribble. However, he plays well in an offense off his teammates and doesn’t force things one-on-one when there’s no opportunity.
He plays a balanced inside and outside game, scoring his points in a variety of ways. 24 percent of his points are scored in the paint, 36 percent at the free throw line, 25 percent from beyond the arc, 15 percent on midrange shots, and 11 percent coming off of fast breaks. He can break down a defense in many ways with his arsenal of moves. For instance, he put in 62.5 percent of his pull-up jump shots and 57.1 percent of his floaters.
What’s more is that he’s also progressing as the season moves forward. He scored 23.5 points per game in January and 22.3 so far in February, highlighted by a 33 point performance against Chicago last Friday.
Gallo has long gone under-appreciated for his contributions in the NBA, but it seems especially egregious this season during his career year in Denver. His prolonged mediocrity, much of which was due to his injuries, has often left him out of the discussion of young rising NBA stars. He is playing this season on a non-competitive team in the West with a small market, so it’s easy to forget about him. Don’t forget about Gallo, he’s here to stay.
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