Why Knicks Rookie Danilo Gallinari Could Be Great
Danilo Gallinari has played eight games in his NBA career. He averages just over 12 minutes while scoring 5.9 points per game, anemic stats for the sixth overall pick in last year's draft. He has been pegged as a work in progress and a defensive liability. He's 6'10" and 225 pounds soaking wet. On draft day, Knicks fans could see this bust coming from a mile away.
However, over those eight games, it's been clear that "Il Gallo" will be not only be a good NBA player, but has the potential to be great. He has as sweet a shooting touch as any player on the Knicks, and, in time, he will be able to develop his ability to attack the hoop.
He is 6'10", and, due to his sore back and light build, he has been relegated to guarding the 3 spot, consistently being beaten off the dribble by more athletic small forwards. However, in time, as Gallinari is able to strengthen his weak build, he will be able to match up against more top heavy power forwards, allowing opportunities for him to abuse them with his ball-handling skills, first-step quickness, and shooting range.
Throughout his short time on the active roster, Gallinari has spent most of his time occupying the weak-side slot within the Knicks' pick-and-roll halfcourt offense, but, as his game develops, he will be able to demand more of the ball and create opportunities for himself and others by attacking the rim.
He does not yet have the confidence to consistently create opportunities for himself, but, due to his high basketball IQ, he has been able to get good open looks. With a tall power forward who can shoot from anywhere on the floor, his offensive upside is enormous.
Gallinari's attitude reflects a winner. He is extremely confident without being outwardly cocky, he is unselfish without being passive, and he has the fire to win that cannot be taught, only born with.
Gallinari has earned the respect and admiration from his teammates that some players never earn in their career (Starbury?). His attitude is the first symbol in a season of change that will bring the Knicks out of the Isiah era and into the D'Antoni era, where winning is due to talent and effort rather than luck.
"Il Gallo" has already showed how his contributions will immediately improve the Knicks, as he has revamped their bench into a major weapon against teams second lines. He has been implanted into a system that perfectly complements his talents while minimizing his weaknesses. His offensive ability will be highlighted while his defensive inadequacies will be minimized due to the SSOL style of the "runnin' gunnin' New York Knicks."
While potential does not always equal success, Gallinari has all the signs pointing toward his own success. With improved strength and lateral quickness on the defensive end, the "Rooster" could be something special in New York, and with the biggest free agent summer coming up in two years, regardless of where LeBron goes, he will not be required to be the No. 1 option on a team that is beginning to show some true young talent.
Gallinari will, however, be one of the best second or third options in the league if all goes according to the D'Antoni plan.
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