There’s a lot to talk about with the Knicks these days. The Nate Robinson saga is in full swing, with the latest volley being the diminutive guard having his agent lobby for a trade. Of course this goes hand in hand with the Knicks current win streak, as lots of people will point out the team has gone 6-3 since D’Antoni exiled Nate to the canine abode. And if Nate is asking for a trade that means the number of rumors involving Tracy McGrady, Tyrus Thomas, and Anthony Randolph will also increase. You could add into this drama Eddy Curry’s status, as the former franchise savior sits behind Darko Milicic in terms of minutes played on the season (Curry 62, Darko 71). There are grumblings that Curry is unhappy with his lack of court time as well. Finally is the newly acquired Jonathan Bender, who is having a Rip Van Winkle style awakening.
But perhaps lost in all this is the improved play of Danilo Gallinari. The team grabbed Gallo with the 6th pick last year, and a back injury derailed his initial campaign. The Rooster was a one trick pony, hitting threes at an unbelievable rate. This season, Gallo seems to be taking the critical next step forward in his development.
Year G MP FGA FG% 3PA 3P% FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB 2009 28 412 10.9 .448 6.3 .444 2.4 .963 1.1 3.7 4.8 2010 26 771 13.0 .432 8.2 .423 3.0 .785 0.9 4.8 5.7 Year AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS TS% PER 2009 1.3 1.2 0.3 1.3 4.2 14.9 .621 13.4 2010 1.7 1.2 1.0 1.6 2.5 17.0 .595 16.5
Although his primary asset is still the long ball (61% of all his points come from behind the arc), Gallo is showing a more well rounded game. He has improved his passing, scoring volume, free throw attempts, rebounding, fouls, and blocked shots. The latter stats are vital to Danilo’s growth. There was never any doubt that Gallinari could shot, but rather it was his athleticism that was under question. So to see Gallo contribute in these areas is a good sign. Some stats are more linked to physical ability, and it’s good to compare Gallinari’s to another young Knick known for his “explosiveness”.
Player Year Age G FTA ORB DRB TRB STL BLK PF Chandler 2010 22 27 2.2 1.8 3.7 5.6 0.5 0.9 3.8 Gallinari 2010 21 26 3.0 0.9 4.8 5.7 1.2 1.0 2.5
Gallo has clear advantages in free throws attempted, steals, and fouls per minute. The first is a bit surprising considering how often Gallinari is camped behind the three point line. However he has shown the ability to get inside and either finish or draw contact. Gallo’s success could be the result of having a few different moves, as witnessed by his pump & scoop shot against the Bobcats on Sunday. The steals seem to be more the result of quick hands than playing the passing lanes. And Gallo’s height advantage allows him to commit less fouls. The interesting aspect of comparing Gallinari to Wilson Chandler is that the latter is thought of being a player that relies on his physical ability. But it’s clear that Gallo is more athletic than previously thought and/or Chandler isn’t producing has you’d expect from someone with his physique.
Looking back at the Knicks recent win streak, there’s been a lot of conjecture on if this was the result of Robinson’s banishment or Jeffries role as a defensive force. But perhaps it’s Gallinari’s emergence that has helped to put New York over the top. In the Knicks last 9 games, the Rooster has give New York 13 blocks and 13 steals, in addition to 2 double digit rebound games and 8 double digit scoring outputs. There’s an old basketball axiom that says your shot may not be there some games, but you can bring intensity on the defensive end every night. Perhaps a microcosm of Gallinari’s game could be seen in the final moments of the Bobcats game. Gallo was unable to hit free throws to ice the game, but he blocked a shot in the final second to preserve the victory.