Yesterday morning, after Tokyo drifting to work with a cold cup of some of New Yorkís most undrinkable coffee in hand, I stumbled across an interesting piece by Michael Salfino on WSJ.com. Salfino noticed that Danilo Gallinari has the second highest rate of free throws per possession (.36) in the entire NBA, despite the fact that he is known primarily as a jump shooter. That Gallinari is a superlative free throw shooter means the paisanís forays to the rim are all the more worthwhile. Gallo scored only three two-point field goals in Sundayís win against Detroit and yet shot (and made) 11 free throws, en route to 29 points and a resounding Knicks win and only seven two-pointers to go with 27 points in the Knicks resounding loss to Dallas last night. These strange statistics beg two short questions, which I will do my best to answer without tearfully begging NBA big men to stop assaulting our precious Italian.
Why the hell is this happening?ó
Gallinari takes long strides to the hoop, has very long arms and is clever [deviously European] enough to sell and exploit contact. These elements allow Gallo to get to the rim, and therefore the charity stripe, but one other virtue is perhaps even more vital toward this endóDanilo Gallinari runs like a circus clown with two high ankle sprains. Our blind love for the young Rooster cannot preclude us from making this obvious observation, and it should certainly not stop us from understanding its effectiveness. Opponents are consistently shocked by the fact that this limping beanpole is: A. not settling for a jump shot, and B. capable of driving past them without the assistance of a hard screen or tazer. The wonderment on Tayshaun Princeís face (you know, if Prince hypothetically had the emotional capacity for a second facial expression) during Gallinariís drives was especially telling last Sunday and was reminiscent of LeBron Jamesí frustrations by Gallinariís staunch defense last Thursday. In short, Gallo is plainly capable of getting into the paint and scoring; it just doesnít seem like most defenders have much luck comprehending this fact or stopping its execution.
How can the Knicks maximize these wonderful occurrences?ó
As Salfino mentions, Gallinari is 4th on the Knicks roster in usage rate. Plainly, unselfish jump shooters are prone to fade in and out of games, and for the most part that is what Gallinari has been for the Knicks. During crunch time, however, the Knicks have shown that they lack a premier perimeter penetrator to isolate and attack the rim, a linchpin for almost all title contenders. Amare Stoudemire has been a revelation in many ways, but scoring off the dribble certainly hasnít one of them, as has been painfully apparent in these situations. With Gallinariís superior passing ability and penchant for getting to the stripe, one could argue that running pick and rolls and clear outs with Gallo as the primary ball handler could be an effective means to break down staunch fourth quarter defenses. Certainly anything is better than watching the courageous, but misguided, Stoudemire play hot potato with three defenders draped across his back.
The outlook for increased Gallinari usage seems quite good. With Raymond Felton struggling mightily with a bad wheel and Amare Stoudemire battling through some nicks and bruises the Knicks will need Gallo to take the wheel as a ball handler and catalyst in the half court. The statistics say that he is capable, but is he willing?
Gallo has been owning lately. In the last seven games he's had 23, 17, 20, 12, 29, 27 and 18 points respectively. In the last heartbreaking game, a loss to Philly, he had a surprising 13 rebounds to go along w those 18 points. Gallo is clearly getting better and starting to emerge.
The thing about him that I've noticed he's had on display more, is his ability to handle the ball. This guy is an amazing dribbler. I've been saying this since I started to post on the forum. Now Gallo is really starting to show it more in NBA games. In the last game against Philly, he got the ball on the wing, crossed over from behind his back to his right then drove toward the baseline. He was met by another defender whom he crossed left on, continued to the hoop and finished to cap off this fantastic display.. The guy is 6'10''. He should not be that skilled, mobile and fluid and yet this is what he's showing more and more.
The part above where the writer suggests Gallo should run the pick and roll as the ball-handler is something I suggested when I first got to the forum. I would like to see this happen aswell, but not just in the fourth quarter.