35. Danilo Gallinari-Small Forward.
Best Season As A Knick: 2009-10, age 22. 15.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 38% on threes, 82% from FT line.
“He’s the best shooter I’ve ever seen.”
After starting just two games his rookie season and entering his second as a pro in the United States, Danilo Gallinari’s head coach cursed him with words that couldn’t possibly be proven right or wrong—praise that was uncalculated, unwrranted, and spontaneously useless. Not that the pressures of being a foreign born first round draft pick weren’t enough, or the mere fact that the team which selected him happens to reside in the world’s largest media market, but Gallinari now had this “title” weighing on his surgically repaired back heading into this sophomore season. Things were bleak. But looking back it may have worked out splendidly for the Knicks and their faithful.
Gallinari was a hard working fan favorite who evoked a certain stoicism unseen young, inexperienced players. He was humble, once pleading with the media after a big game to halt any comparisons floating in the air about his great potential (“I’m not a superstar, I’m not an All-Star, I’m not LeBron, I’m not those great players. I’m an important player of the Knicks.”) and to just let him play to the best of his 6’10″ abilities.
But none of these qualities is the reason why Danilo finds himself squeaking into the Top 35, at least not entirely. Last February Gallinari was the central figure in what could go down as the most significant trade in Knicks history: the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony. Several other players were included in the deal (including Wilson Chandler, who actually shot better from deep last season than Gallo) but given the Italian’s age and rapid transformation from dead-eye shooter to aggressive, versatile point scorer, there’s no question who Denver believes to be the most prized jewel on their end of the transaction.
It may sound silly but if there’s no Gallinari there’s no Carmelo. And that’s pretty significant.