Being an Italian-American myself … and from North Jersey … and no, I don’t know anyone from The Sopranos … it’s always exciting to see my fellows pisans from the homeland succeed.
Of course, there are few instances. These are no longer the days of Leonardo Da Vinci and Amerigo Vespucci. Italians aren’t constantly taking the world by storm. Lately, Roberto Benigni and Giada De Laurentiis’ cleavage are the best we can do. And Andrea Bargnani has been having a good month, so there’s that.
So I am borderline overjoyed to see Danilo Gallinari starting to make his impact in the NBA. Being in the New York area, his return is getting a lot of coverage from the local media, who are desperate to find anything new to talk about with this team other than Stephon Marbury.
After missing the first two-plus months of the season with a back injury, Gallinari made his season debut on Saturday and had six points, one assist and one block in 15 minutes. Fine.
On Monday he showed further glimpses of his potential with nine points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block in 16 minutes. He made 4-of-7 shots from the floor and 1-of-2 3-pointers.
Is this the beginning of something significant? In other words, is he worth a pickup? In deeper leagues, most definitely yes. In standard leagues, it’s borderline. I grabbed him in a 12-team league because I had one bench spot I haven’t been able to fill with a consistent player.
Seeing if Gallinari fits on your squad depends on what you need and how your roster is constructed. And that in and of itself is dependant on what his prospects are for the rest of the season.
Here is what we know:
- He is the team’s first-round draft pick and will get plenty of chances to show whether he should be part of the team’s future plans.
- Mike D’Antoni is a basketball legend in Italy and speaks fluent Italian. He’s certain to have an affinity for the kid.
- After a few days of practice, D’Antoni already referred to Gallinari as the best shooter on the team.
- The Knicks have been fantasy gold this season, making anyone who gets solid minutes worth having.
- He’s Italian and we all know Italians/people of Italian decent are incredibly talented and have borderline superhuman powers*
Looking at Gallinari’s scouting report prior to the draft, there is lots to like:
Strengths: “very consistent shooter and can light it up from deep. … He is able to make shots in a variety of ways. … plays with great confidence and composure. … uses his length to disrupt the passing lanes. … Has developed a scorers mentality. … PG skills in a 6-8 forward body, can play all the back-court spots. … Great 3p shot, has shooting range of more than 24 feet and likes to show it off. … Good ball-hawk thanks to his quick hands. … Reads the defense well so he’s able to receive a lot of fouls and go to the FT line many times per game.”
His weaknesses can be summed up as this: he’s strictly a perimeter player with no post game or ability to play physical inside. His movements can seem awkward at times. Bad defensive player.
For fantasy purposes, bad defensive players doesn’t mean much. It doesn’t even mean he won’t get many blocks or steals. You can be a bad defensive player and still – with enough minutes – average one steal and one block per game. Gallinari’s length may allow him to do that.
Offensively, he’s a shooter that will give you a bunch of 3-pointers and an excellent FT%. His size may lead to a fair number of steals and blocks and, like everyone on the Knicks, he’ll be a threat to score.
Honestly, he’d be borderline ownable on any other team. But the Knicks’ uptempo, 3-point chucking style and Gallinari’s kinship with D’Antonimake the kid an intriguing option and worth a shot.
His gradually increasing role will probably hurt Quentin Richardson and Tim Thomas quite a bit. After all, Gallinari is an undeniable part of the Knicks’ future and now that he is healthy, he has three months to show everyone he belongs on Broadway. D’Antoni – perhaps more than any other coach – will give him every opportunity to do just that.