Fifth year forward Danilo Gallinari has been given his fair share of criticism since arriving in Denver two seasons ago, as part of the blockbuster deal that sent forward Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. Gallinari was the main piece the Nuggets received back in the Melo trade and was thought by most to be the new “face of the franchise” for Denver. Injuries and a poor game seven showing against the Lakers in last year’s playoffs(Gallo scored only 3 points, on 1-9 shooting and committed 4 turnovers), have put even more pressure on “The Rooster”. Up until this season Gallo wasn’t really meeting those lofty and somewhat unrealistic expectations that many Nuggets supporters had bestowed on him. However it looks as if the 24 year old Italian has finally taken a step forward in the right direction for Denver and is starting to play with some confidence, especially in late game situations.
Gallinari has hit multiple crucial shots this season, more so than in his prior two seasons with Denver against teams like Memphis, Golden State, San Antonio and most recently the Los Angeles Lakers. According to the guys over at www.82games.com clutch stats(which shows how the player performed in the 4th quarter or overtime, with less than five minutes left and neither team being ahead by more than five points), Gallinari has performed well this season in crunch time for the Nuggets. He has scored 26.5 points this season in clutch/crunch time situations and is shooting 43% from the field in those situations as well(these stats are through 34 games, so these numbers don’t include the Lakers game). This is a big improvement from last season, where Gallo only scored 20.2 points and shot a lowly 23.5% from the field in late game situations. Right now Gallinari is currently shooting better than the likes of Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kobe Bryant in those clutch, late game situations.
Gallo has also shown improvements across the board this season, he’s averaging a career high in points(16.2) and rebounds(5.6) this season. He’s cut his turnovers down from last season and is also shooting a higher percentage from the three point line this year(35%). Gallinari already has recorded four game this season where he scored at least 25 points, which doubles his total from last season where he only did that twice. He also recorded a career-high 39 points this season against the Dallas Mavericks late last month, once again showing more improvement. Even though he may never live up to some’s expectations, I think people need to start taking note of what Gallinari is doing and showing him the respect he has earned this season. Everyone thought after last year’s seven game series with the Lakers that Ty Lawson would/become the team’s new “go-to guy”, however Danilo Gallinari has sure had something to say about that given his play this season so far.