Your move, kid.

Signs are pointing toward a statistical explosion for the talented 3rd year pro. Will he deliver?

By now, you’re either firmly entrenched in Danilo Gallinari’s corner, touting him as an offensive star in-the-making, an impressive canvas, no longer blank, but rather splashed with an array of impressive colors, shapes and signs.

A snapshot worthy of one day carving out a prominent place on the mantle or on the top of the fireplace.

Or, you’re reticent to join the growing legion of believers, instead leaning on a few old-school basketball rationalizations (which oftentimes carry plenty of weight) as a reason to quell the enthusiasm surrounding the 6’10” forward.

“Yeah, but someone has to score on a bad team…”

“I’m worried about his back…”

“It will be different now that the opposition knows what he can do…”

Make no mistake where I stand, and I’ve been standing there for a long time. Funny thing is, the room was pretty empty at one point.

Not anymore.

Since Day 1, Danilo Gallinari has been surrounded by a cast of characters more worthy of a role in the circus as opposed to a roster spot on a decent NBA team, and even then, the kid stood out.

At least to me he did.

Even with a balky back and a rudimentary grasp of our language, if you really watched him closely, you sensed a scorer’s mentality, and an internal understanding of “you better believe I belong here.”

That’s what happens when you’re watching your old man play professionally in Italy as a young, impressionable kid. Sure, the arenas in the States are bigger and in most cases more modern with amazing amenities, but at it’s core, basketball is basketball.

the kid could shoot from Day 1

And Danilo Gallinari learned to play the game the right way, the only way to survive and eventually thrive at this level. If the J’s not dropping, get to the rim. Rather than flick J’s all day, make the referee put you on the free throw line. It doesn’t matter how you score, just so long as you do score–and this kid is a scorer.

And eventually he will be an elite scorer.

In the NBA.

As Gallinari slowly began trusting his surgically repaired back once again, you saw the skeleton of an offensive force. Slowly, he incorporated the mid-range game, enabling him to create some space for his lethal jumper. He showed another layer. He flashed.

Often.

His use of angles and pump fakes and body control was so obvious, so apparent and yet, for this franchise, quite frankly, so rare.

Yes, the left hand is shaky, and he needs a stronger handle when attacking the rim overall, no question. He’s far from a finished product, which is what makes his future so bright.

Last year, on a team with no PG and no low-post threat, Gallinari carved out a terrific season, which in essence, served as a rookie season after playing just 28 games in ’08-’09.

15.1 ppg.

183 three-pointers (2nd most in the NBA)

82% from the stripe.

And he did this while the entire roster was flipped and gutted. For those who were spared temporarily, it was sometimes 1-on-5. Example, Al Harrington. It was never about the team, something that almost always retards a young players progress.

Not this kid.

Despite circumstance and despite surroundings, special players rise, while other sink.  Make no mistake, Gallo is still swimming, and he’s picking up steam.

In a physical league, he had no one to protect him, no one to lead him down the unforgiving and dark alley known as the NBA. Basically, no one had his back, except his coach and his general manager.

So he did what winners do–he fought back.

Himself.

And he earned league-wide respect in the process.

If you’re a high draft pick, you’re going to get tested, it’s a rite of passage.

If you’re a high draft pick AND you’re European, the target becomes exponentially bigger.

Ask Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett about Danilo Gallinari.

During his abbreviated rookie season, I remember talking to him during one stretch in March, before he was shut down for the season. I remember looking around the room, looking at the nameplates that eventually would be torn down and tossed in the trash, and with complete confidence, this young foreigner expressing his ability to play this game, on this stage.

It was impressive.

” I know I can score on these guys, I know it, but my back, I just can’t do things that I am so used to doing. I can’t move without the ball, I just can’t show everyone what type of player I am. There’s no doubt I can score on these guys. I feel it. No doubt.”

The tone one uses is oftentimes much more important than the words one chooses, and that night, Gallinari certainly chose the right words, but the sales job came with the tone: complete and utter conviction, almost defiance, and most definitely passion.

He’s not Keith Van Horn, despite the ridiculous comparisons.

He has game and he has ‘tude, and now, finally, he has some pieces around him.

The show starts now, enjoy the stage kid.

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6 Comments

  1. The Knicks better not trade this guy. They already let go of a homegrown talent this year(David Lee) for a guy that hasnt proven to be a great scorer without Steve Nash. Gallinari can guard every position on the court and have decent success because of his height and the way he moves his feet.

    Keith Van Horn is a good comparison only he is a better defender(onball defense, blocking), shooter, and finisher in the paint.

    Keep him, Walsh.

  2. bdegrande

     /  09/29/2010

    I’m somewhere in the middle. I wanted the Knicks to take Russell Westbrook in that draft, but when he was gone by the time they picked, Gallinari was my second choice. I think he is going to be a very good offensive player, he’s going to shoot a lot of threes with Stoudemire around. I wouldn’t be surprised at 19-20 ppg. this year and more down the line. I don’t think he will ever be much more than ordinary in other phases if the game, so he isn’t my idea of a star player, but I do think he can be an offensive force.

  3. Hey, BT big fan of yours, I listen to you and JodyMac everyday. I really didn’t know who Gallo was when we drafted him. I admit, I was skeptical about his game, but I trusted our GM on making the right pick. Alot of my friends wrote him off as a “bust” when he got injured his rookie year, but I still believed in Gallo, and you can’t write off some1 their rookie year. The thing I like most about Gallo is he a “Gamer”, he steps it up against good competition like against denver last yr scoring 17 of his 28 in the 3rd quarter against Melo(hopefully a Knick next yr). I’d like to see him get better at defense. Hopefully the Knicks stay healthy and make it to the playoffs(5th or 6th seed?).

    In Donnie We Trust!

    – Art

  4. nygfan92

     /  09/30/2010

    This is going to be a breakout year for Gallo. The pieces Walsh and Co. have put in place throughout the off season will prove to be the difference (that and health). Felton and Amare will be the biggest reason for the improvements. Amare’s post presence and Felton’s ball movement will open things up for Gallo. If he stays healthy, why can’t Gallo be a 20 ppg guy? A few months from now we’re going to be talking about Gallo playing his way into the popularity contest they now call the “all star game”. BOOM.

  5. danny7434

     /  09/30/2010

    Great post BT. I can honestly say I was on board will Gallo when they drafted him. I think he has great ability and has the potential not only to be an all star but a 1A type player.

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