On January 17th, 2012, Danilo Gallinari had 14 points on 5-12 shooting
In his highest scoring game this season, Gallo drained 31 points and 5 rebonds and two assists in a loss. He demonstrated that he is different, in a good way, from the three point specialist Coach D’Antoni tried to mold him into.
When the final syllable in Danilo Gallinari’s name is stretched out for seconds as he is announced as part of Denver’s starting line-up in the Garden tonight, one should expect a rousing ovation, both in appreciation and remembrance of the 6’10 forward as a Knick and as a statement from fans concerning their displeasure with the Knick organization and the effort of the current Knicks team. Although, the cheers may evoke fantasized memories of Danilo Gallinari’s time with the Knicks, they will actually hide the truth that will ultimately lead to the demise of his “play uncle” Mike D’Antoni as an inner-New York City coach.. The truth? The Danilo Gallinari playing for the Denver Nuggets, and currently their second leading scorer, is a much better player than he would ever have been with the Knicks because D’Antoni ignored his diverse skills and tried to pigeon-hole him as a great three point shooter instead of the versatile baller who could direct the show.
Danilo Gallinari is exhibit 1A, solid proof of the difficulty Mike D’Antoni has in recognizing and properly utilizing the skill of his players if they do not fit in his preferred playing style and system. Currently, Gallo is only one example of players, who were stranded in D’Antoni’s system and mindset, that are playing better in other places: think Darko Milicic (starting Center for TWolves), Anthony Randolph (reserve with Twolves averaging 12.6 mpg) , Nate Robinson (key reserve for GSW), Jordan Hill (occasional starter for Rockets), Timofey Mozgov (starting center for Nuggets), Al Harrington (second leading scorer for Nuggets).
Some Knicks fans will chose to fantasize Gallinari’s time with the Knicks, but the reality was that he was never a really good and consistent three-point shooter even when D’Antoni said he was the best shooter he had ever seen, When he was drafted, Gallo had been a young play-maker for his Italian team He was the man with the ball in his hands to initiate action and to create last second winning shots. He was not an arc straddler. The Gallo who seemed to hold a subway strap at the three point line while waiting for the ball to find him was a forced D’Antoni creation. Eventually and inconsistently, Gallo would drive the ball more as we learned that his length made him very difficult to guard without fouling him and allowing him to flail his arms to make it clear his was being fouled.
Under George Karl’s management, Gallo is now beginning to show his full repetoire as a player as he ditches his label as a three point specialist. In fact, with a dismal 31% shooting average, the three point shot is not the most important or impressive part of his game at all. Karl said, “I think the biggest surprise is that Gallo is a better passer than I thought he was . . . . We got a little lucky, too; we thought Gallo could be more of a playmaker this year, but he’s moved very quickly into becoming a very good decision-maker.”
Currently, Gallo’s offensive statistical averages are similar to his stats last year with the Knicks, but they only tell part of the story. In Denver’s first 15 games this season, Gallo is averaging 33 minutes per game. During his court-time he is scoring 15.9 points per game, Despite his 31% from the arc, he is popping 45% from two point range. This compares very favorably with his last season with the Knicks during which he started all 48 games he played in. Although he averaged 1.8 minutes more per game, Gallo had only a fraction more shot attempts while he averaged 41% for two pointers. He averaged 34% from the arc for about .2 more tre attempts every 36 minutes.
His much higher shooting percentage seems to be a result of him getting his shots closer to the basket on drives and tap ins. Additionally, although he is playing fewer minutes he has 2.7 assists per game compared to 1.7 last season with the Knicks. He is also averaging 1 more steal and slightly better rebounding per game in less time.
Danilo’s PER (player efficiency rating which measures per minute performance by aggregating positive and negative stats) is now 19.4 compared to 15.6 in his last season as a Knick, which was his best. Offensively, although his three point shooting is way down, he is a much better player and a more integral part of the game with Denver. D’Antoni’s failure to develop and utilize Gallo’s total game simply magnify’s a constant trait (see current use of Renaldo Balkman, Tyson Chandler and Knicks guard corp.) that will lead to the further demise of the Knicks and the firing of it’s coach.