He is considered the most talented player in Italy and the next rising European star who will leave his mark on the NBA. Danilo Gallinari has not officially decided his future as far as next year is concerned, but he already shows the maturity of a veteran. His work ethic, as well as his incredibly versatility, has him regarded as a top ten pick in this year’s draft. “I’m under contract for two more years with Olimpia Milano”, Gallinari says, “but I have a clause that allows me to get out for free this year if want to leave for the NBA”. Gallinari weighs his words carefully, we will know his decision and his future only in 2-3 weeks. While we wait, let’s get to know him better.
Giuseppe Matarazzo: You’re in the midst of a long, hard season. Is fatigue starting to set in at all for you? You’ve played close to 40 games already this season, with more still to come, plus the playoffs. How is your body holding up at this point in the year?
Danilo Gallinari: I feel very good. I have no problem and I don’t feel any particular pain. There’s no trouble from fatigue and I’m sure I can end my season at 100% . Finally I can say that I’m fit.
Giuseppe Matarazzo: How hard is it to be the go-to guy of an important team like Milano in both the Euroleague and the Italian A1? Has it been tough having defenses key in on you all season long?
Danilo Gallinari: If they give you the responsibility, they know they can count on you, and more importantly, they believe in your capabilities. They trust in me, and I’m proud of that. Being the “franchise player” of a glorious and accomplished team like Milan is great honor. It doesn’t matter at all: for me the main thing is to repay their confidence by working hard and getting results.
Giuseppe Matarazzo: How much time does your team put into the tactical side of the game in practices, compared with working on individual skills, like shooting, ball-handling, and the like? Are you worried about the physical training you should face overseas?
Danilo Gallinari: We spend lots of time on the tactical sides in order to prepare for the matches against our opponents and to fix our game. To get better, I practice with my staff on fundamentals and physical tools whenever I can. In case I decide to face the NBA, I know I have first of all to train harder, especially in the first months, if I want to make my body ready for a higher level.
Giuseppe Matarazzo: It’s only on your physical tools that there are some doubts. There are people who say that you are not very athletic for an NBA player and that you will struggle to defend your position at that level. How would you respond to them?
Danilo Gallinari: They only make me to work harder, to improve my game in order to disprove them on the court.
Giuseppe Matarazzo: There have always been debates on your role. Do you see yourself as strictly a small forward in the NBA, or do you think you’d be able to play as a face the basket power forward in a small-ball system as well?
Danilo Gallinari: I don’t like to limit myself. Well, I play as a small forward, but surely I can adapt my game: the important thing is to play even in a different role if the coach decides that way, maybe to open the court or play in transition; No problem, I always follow my coach’s directions.
Giuseppe Matarazzo: What type of NBA team would fit you best? What kind of style? A fast team like Golden State or a slow-paced team like Utah or Detroit? What is best suited for you to play?
Danilo Gallinari: I can’t say; it’s not easy to compare them with the European systems. They’re similar, but different in structure and players. I have no preference, I believe that a player can fully fit a team independent of the style of play. He simply has to train.
Giuseppe Matarazzo: Have you heard from Andrea Bargnani or Marco Belinelli lately? Have they advised you? Are you more worried by having expectations like Bargnani or being put on the bench and collecting a lot of “DNPs” like Belinelli?
Danilo Gallinari: We talked during the Italian national team meeting, but we didn’t talk about the NBA. As I said, I’m not afraid of responsibilities, so I’d prefer to have a position like Andrea’s. After all, not playing is hard for everyone.
Giuseppe Matarazzo: You are a few weeks from an important decision that could change your life. How does Danilo Gallinari spend his time when you’re not busy with basketball
Danilo Gallinari: I don’t like overdoing things, I like walking in the center of Milan, meeting some friends and staying with my family. Due to my career I don’t see them a lot, so when I can, I spend my time with them, especially playing with my brother.
Giuseppe Matarazzo: This upcoming draft has other European young prospects such as Pekovic and Batum that you faced in the Euroleague. What do you think about them? Have you seen any NCAA matches? Has any talent impressed you?
Danilo Gallinari: Batum and Pekovic are very interesting players with great physical tools and skills who can play a role both in Europe and the NBA, but honestly, I feel I have nothing to envy of them. Concerning the NCAA, I couldn’t see any matches, as I am too busy, and I don’t know this year’s draft prospects very well, but I know there are first class players. You know, every year the draft is absolutely surprising and brings out unbelievable players.
Giuseppe Matarazzo: You’ll announce your decision only in a month, but if you declare for the NBA draft, what are your long term and short term goals?
Danilo Gallinari: My philosophy is to try and be the best in what I do. I don’t like making long-term projects, but instead concentrate myself on daily work. Only at the end of my ‘journey’ I’ll look back and see what I’ve been able to reach. Only then will I sum up what I’ve done.
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Top Draft-Eligible Performers in the Euroleague Regular Season
February 4, 2008
The Euroleague competition has been a privileged witness of Gallinari’s emergence as the go-to guy for Armani Jeans Milano, displaying a performance level very rarely seen in Europe from such a young player. A top-20 player in scoring, and eighth is efficiency thanks to his impressive ability to draw fouls, he has reached the 20-point mark 4 times out of the 11 games he has played.
Unfortunately for him, Armani Jeans Milano has completed a very underwhelming regular season, with only 3 victories in the easiest group. On the other hand, the poor level his team has shown, particularly during Gallo’s injury early in the season, paved the way for his emergence as the team offensive leader. No other player on the Italian squad could unbalance the opposing defense with his one-on-one game as Danilo proved to be capable of. On the other hand, his role on the team didn’t help his shooting percentages, barely achieving a pretty modest 42% from the field. Still, his ability to add points from the charity stripe somehow compensated for it (he ranked second both in fouls drawn and free-throws attempted).
Often spectacular on the floor thanks to his impressive skill set, Gallinari has enamored basketball fans across Europe. Along Pekovic, he’s the only serious candidate for the Euroleague’s Rising Star award (for under-22 players). Draft-wise, he’s right now the top international prospect for the 2008 edition, and to hit the lottery should be a piece of cake for him.
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Roundup: Gallinari Dominates
January 29, 2008
It’s becoming increasingly usual to see Danilo Gallinari producing almost at will regardless of who he goes up against. His skill repertoire, knowledge of the game and physical gifts propose a devastating equation that hardly anybody can consistently contest. Just consider that he’s living in the 20+ point mark for the last five games now, combining both the Euroleague and the Italian Lega. The run includes last week’s defeat against the Israeli powerhouse Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv, where Gallinari carried his team’s offensive load with 27 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals, and the comfortable victory over Scavolini Spar Pesaro, that only required him to spend 26 minutes on court, but was still enough to come up with 20 points and 6 rebounds.
We could watch his Euroleague outing against Maccabi, a fantastic offensive show for him. He was the clear-cut go-to guy for his team, the one responsible for keeping them alive for much of the game, but unfortunately he didn’t emerge as clutch as he often does. Anyway, again his superb slashing ability was responsible of much of the damage he caused on his opponents, both in the form of layups/dunks and forced fouls that sent him to the stripe multiple times.
However, other stuff deserves attention too. Gallinari is a well-known solid shooter. Indeed he made a living off his perimeter stroke during his first year of serious veteran competition (in the Italian second division). In this game, it was interesting to see him creating his own shot in a pure face-up one-on-one setting, using a fake and a dribble to release a successful long-range bomb, but also from the low post with a turnaround jumper, cashing in off his size. He can be pretty quick displaying his mechanics, and he shows a great sense of timing to execute every move while always evaluating his match-up’s reaction. Indeed, he often makes opponents bite on his fakes, forcing many fouls in the process or just paving his way to the basket. That’s logically helped become the dual-threat that he is his with shooting and slashing abilities.
His body control also chimes in there. It’s funny, because at first sight you might get the feeling that his big body might somehow escape his control. But the reality couldn’t be further, as his body perfectly follows his orders. For example, 6-10 guys (his likely size in shoes) running at full speed in transition tend to bump into opponents that step in their way to the basket, but Danilo has no trouble slashing by them, being able to easily change directions on the run. He actually delivered a spectacular coast-to-coast play that included a behind-the-back direction change he executed with his left hand between two opponents at almost full speed. If not the quickest and most reactive guy around, he is pretty fast when he starts moving, which looks obvious when he plays transition ball. His incredibly long strides help a great deal here as well. Just to emphasize that point, he got to the free throw line an astounding 17 times against Teramo last week
Every game is a door open to amazement. He’s so skilled and fundamentally sound that remarkable plays are bound to happen on a regular basis.
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Blogging Through Europe (Part Six: France)
December 8, 2007
Gallinari on the other hand was spectacular, playing a massive role in his team’s eventual victory, sometimes just with pure grit and determination—exactly what we wanted to see if you read our blog from earlier this week.
Offensively, he put a tremendous amount of pressure on the defense, creating his own shot time after time and making fantastic decisions with the ball in his hands. His slashing forays to the rim opened up Le Mans’s defense considerably, and created numerous open looks for his teammates on the wing—resulting in a game-high 5 assists. He does a wonderful job keeping his man off balance on his heels with a series of jukes and shakes, never giving his defender any hint as to which direction he’ll slash until it’s basically too late. He uses screens exceptionally well and is constantly reading the defense—showing a mastery of picking optimal angles and never driving in a straight line thanks to his fluid body control. That’s why despite the fact that his first step isn’t prototypically explosive for an NBA small forward, he gets his shot almost whenever he wants—more so with his skills and smarts. The fact that he doesn’t explode into the lane at 100 miles (or kilometers) an hour means that there is a real under control nature to his drives, one that exudes patience and elegance and also allows him to finish superbly around the basket, or find the open man once the defense rotates. The fact that he drew 12 fouls in 31 minutes is a great testament to his effectiveness in this area.
Gallinari did a better job in the paint that we saw in the first two games. His team posted him up on a couple of occasions, and he delivered some really nice moves—once with a pivot move (called for a travel), once with a terrific up and under, another time with an excellent spin, while also doing outstanding work on the offensive glass. He finished with a game-high 4 offensive rebounds (7 total), sometimes following his own miss for a put-back, always showing a lot of determination, and really looking passionate about coming away with a much needed victory here on the road.
Defensively, there was a lot to like this time around—an area that we had some criticism about in our previous blog. He looked more focused staying in front of his man, taking a lot of pride on this end of the floor, and even stepping in for a charge on one occasion. He guarded Batum most of the time that the two were on the floor together, and did not allow him to get past him, which is a good sign.
All in all, this was a very impressive performance from a 19 year old player at the top level of Europe. The fact that he was such an indispensable cog in his team’s very important victory on the road made this a very significant performance as far as the scouts we talked to were concerned. Teams that were represented included the Portland Trailblazers (Chad Buchannan), Minnesota Timberwolves (Pete Philo), Boston Celtics (Ryan McDonough), Charlotte Bobcats (Scott Howard and Rich Shuebrooks), Denver Nuggets (Simon Cote), Cleveland Cavaliers (Chico Averbuck), Golden State Warriors (Kosta Jankov) and probably others that we did not get to see or talk to.
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Blogging through Europe (Part Four: Italy)
December 3, 2007
Whereas the expectations from Jonas Jerebko were slim to none coming into this game, his younger counterpart born in 1988 Danilo Gallinari is already carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. The scrutiny coming from the fans, scouts and media has been intense to say the very least, and we were able to witness both sides of the spectrum from watching him twice in the Euroleague and Italian League in just four days.
There is no doubt first of all that Gallinari is already his team’s best and most important player. When he’s involved in the offense and showing his versatility, everything flows much better. The problem is that that isn’t always the case, and besides a few Isolation plays at the top of the key, Gallinari was basically forced to go out and find his own offense within Milano’s disorganized half-court sets, which probably isn’t the ideal situation considering the type of player he is.
Let’s first start with the good things he showed…starting with his 3-point stroke. Gallinari is getting closer and closer to being considered a light’s out shooter, as you can see the way he releases the ball from many different situations (off the dribble, fading away, spotting up, coming off screens) that his potential here is absolutely immense. His stroke is pure, blessed with picture perfect mechanics and beautiful arch and rotation, and he’s become increasingly confident in it, indeed knocking down 3 of 6 shots from behind the arc in the Euroleague game on Thursday against Maccabi. He’s also Milano’s designated technical free throw shooter, which tells you a little bit about how highly his coach thinks of his 19-year old prodigy
Creating his own shot off the dribble, Gallinari looked pretty spectacular, using a dizzying array of head and body fakes to get his man off balance, and awesome ball-handling skills crossing his man over from left to right or right to left with excellent body control getting in the lane. He did so on a number of occasions, first going left, then right, and even finishing through contact for the And-1, adjusting his body in the air and switching hands to avoid the defender. His first step isn’t what you could call explosive, but he’s such a smart and skilled player that it almost doesn’t matter at this level. We should note that the length of 6-9 Jonas Jerebko did seem to give him some problems in the Biella game, though.
Gallinari is used as his team’s de-facto point guard at times, bringing the ball up the floor and getting them into their offense. We saw this on at least a half dozen occasions, and he appeared to have no problem whatsoever doing so. He’s a very unselfish player, never forcing the issue, communicating well with his teammates, and already appearing to have their trust. At times you got the feel that his team even needed more out of him than he was able to provide, as he lacked a bit of aggressiveness looking for the ball in key moments that Milano just could not find a way to put the ball in the basket. He had opportunities to take his man down to the post in both games and take advantage of his superior size at the small forward position, but still lacks some refined post moves and maybe a bit of toughness to get the job done down low.
Defensively, Gallinari did not appear to be as effective as we remembered him being last year. He looked to be showing a bit more fire on this end of the floor previously, fighting through screens, being passionate about staying in front of his man, hitting the glass, etc. This might be a product of the much increased offensive role he has on the team (one player simply can’t do everything and still remain effective), or it might be related to the fact that he’s just returning from an injury. Regardless, his lateral quickness and the effectiveness he shows being able to guard wing players will play a huge role in the way he’s evaluated by NBA teams, so this is something we’ll continue to keep a close on as the year moves on.
We’ll have one last chance to watch Gallinari in person next week, in a dream Euroleague matchup on Thursday against Nicolas Batum and Le Mans. We’ll be back with another report after that.
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Roundup: Gallinari is Back
November 13, 2007
With Armani Jeans Milano struggling badly (firing their coach, GM , and hiring a new point guard) the team has embraced Gallinari as a hope for some visible improvement ever since he returned from his injury a week ago. Despite this weekend’s victory against Cimberio Varese, we can’t say there’s still much change in the direction of the team: still winless in the Euroleague, they have only been able to collect victories against the three worst placed teams in the domestic competition, and all three came at home. Not the happiest times for the former European champions.
Anyway, it’s still remarkable that a 19-year-old kid becomes the leader of a Euroleague squad. Danilo had 18 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals against Unicaja in the Euroleague, and went for 16 points, 6 rebounds and 6 steals against Varese in the Italian Lega. We’re not talking about a guy who randomly gets points in the flow of the game, but a player who actively takes decisions on the court. Not surprising since Gallinari is arguably the best one-on-one player on the team. As we could see against Unicaja, he repeatedly attacked his opponents off the dribble. It’s a combination of his excellent ball-handling skills with both hands, great use of his body, terrific footwork, and very nice ability to finish around the rim with difficult layups. He delivered the play of the game with a wonderful coast-to-coast play, dribbling in traffic and finishing with a left-handed lay-up. With his team trailing in the last quarter, he went as far as to demand the ball and take it up-court himself.
Photo: Armani Jeans Milano
A pretty decent shooter, Gallinari uses his size advantage and the slashing menace he represents to release his shot even with an opponent in front of him. However, he needs to get more consistent, and indeed he credited a combined 1/11 from behind the arc this past week. He’s also looking pretty straight forward whenever he decides to attack his opponents, in the sense that he looks for the basket himself, usually with excellent results, while passing the ball emerges as a very secondary option. Actually, he’s yet to credit a single assist this season after 5 games, and by any means, it’s not like he can’t pass the ball…
The amount of steals he collected this past week was really impressive. His length on the wings becomes very annoying for his opponents and pretty helpful for him to reach the ball, while he’s pretty smart attacking a player’s dribble. Still he looked a bit slower than usual in terms of lateral quickness on the defensive end, perhaps as a temporary result of his recent injury and absence from the court. On the other hand, he delivered in the rebounding department, and showed some leaping ability dunking the ball from a standstill position off an offensive capture.
Above anything, he showed character against Unicaja, despite the tough moments his team is going through, fighting throughout the game until he fouled out with a couple of minutes to go. He’s a winner, a player who steps up in the decisive moments.
On the other side of the spectrum we have his surprisingly good lateral quickness. Actually Gallinari is one of the few guys you can see consistently defending any player on court from the point guard to the power forward position, which is really impressive. His length and defensive quickness are a very tough match-up for any perimeter player, while he enjoys enough size and strength to challenge power forwards. Particularly his defensive flashes are sometimes spectacular, immediately flashing in front of the dribbler who tries to take advantage of a screen. It’s also important to note that his leaping ability dramatically improves when he’s running, so he can finish above the rim after a drive.
Then we have how Gallinari makes the most out of that controversial athleticism. It’s particularly remarkable how he can beat his match-ups off the dribble on a regular basis. He might not be very reactive, but his first step is very nice, his strides long and difficult to keep up with for his defender, his footwork excellent to slalom towards the basket, and his body control effective while using his width and strength to keep his opponents away from the ball.
It’s fascinating how much Gallinari reminds of the great Dejan Bodiroga (length and perimeter skills, poise, basketball IQ, ability to beat their opponents despite their questionable quickness, low-post game), which by the way doesn’t help much in terms solving any doubt about his NBA potential. Still you have to believe that a major basketball talent usually breaks through. And it’s not like this kid doesn’t enjoy some terrific tools to help his cause.
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Roundup: Danilo Gallinari, King of Cups
February 19, 2007
Gallinari’s characteristics speak maturity any way you look at them, and he’s still a guy with great potential. He’s really long, already in the 6-10 neighborhood, enjoys a good wingspan and a notable frame. Actually, he’s a pretty strong player who holds his own against top international competition. It’s interesting to note how in both games, Gallinari shot a combined 21/22 from the free-throw line. It speaks wonders about his free-throw shooting (obviously), but particularly about his ability to force fouls. Despite being only 18 years old, he’s rather aggressive in terms of attacking his rivals, precisely taking advantage of that strength and frame
. He uses his body really well while slashing, which paired with his footwork, ball-handling, ability to finish near the basket, basketball IQ and even his excellent size, helps him to easier see the court, allow him to keep perfect control of the situation and take good decisions in motion.
His incisive game might come as a surprise for anybody watching Gallinari for the first time, as the very first impression he usually leaves is a bit disappointing in terms of athleticism. But as we have stated often here in DraftExpress.com, it’s a deceiving impression, because and as soon as he gets into game situations, he showcases nice quickness and some hops. He’s surely not a top-notch athlete, but a very fluid one who is smart enough to maximize his athletic gifts. So at the end of the day, he’s going to beat his match-ups off the dribble on a regular basis, while on the other end of the floor he proves to be a very reliable defender with nice lateral mobility
A solid shooter, even with the ability to create his own shot, a nice passer…everything is in place in Gallinari’s game. The fact that he’s such a big perimeter player, so talented and intelligent, leads us to think that he will be able to adjust to any level of basketball he’s thrown in, even in a very athletic league as the NBA
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