A video feature by the Los Angeles Clippers on one of Europe’s occasionally ignored sons shone new light on the work Danilo Gallinari has been doing on the floor for LA. Emmet Ryan got thinking, then his mind meandered, then it got back, and anyway read on
Last summer I saw Tesla playing in Toronto. I wasn’t there to see them and, honestly, I couldn’t then nor can now name a single one of their songs. I was there to see Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, who were a real disappointment as they clearly didn’t care. Fortunately the headline act was Styx and they were fantastic. Anyway, Tesla’s slogan for their tour (where on this leg they were second support, the curtain jerkers) was ‘Still Kicking Ass.’ Later on in the evening, Styx were giving shout outs to both support acts and said of Tesla “They’re still here.”
Still Kicking Ass and They’re Still Here, somehow both of these together make for the best description of Danilo Gallinari. First, watch this
In September 2015, Gallinari was coming off yet another injury hampered season but was fit enough to play EuroBasket and looked in good form. Italy bowed out in the quarter-finals but won a subsequent game to book a spot in the Olympic qualifiers. Afterwards, in a painfully noisy mixed zone, his career long history with injuries was naturally the one thing on my mind. Here he was looking healthy, so I asked how he felt having got through the tournament and was he ready for the NBA season.
“I’m ready to go back but I’m ready to rest too,” he said, being more than aware that he wasn’t diving straight into training camp and recharging was a good thing. In that same quick stop he mentioned something that came up in that Clippers’ feature on him, his confidence.
“I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing but one thing that is part of myself is my confidence is always very high, so confidence is not a problem,” said Gallinari, with quite the grin as he finished.
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That’s Gallo the player. He goes to work, generally does quite well when healthy, and knows he can deliver. That he still watches golf is impressive, I find it far too arduous to deal with the commentary on that sport these days. I am not your friend Jim Nantz and I never will be.
In 2015, he had already gone through quite an arc. He was a reliable 14 and 5 guy through 8 seasons in the NBA but he had huge chunks of missed action throughout all but one of his seasons to date. That he was spoken of with the same kind of language as Luka Doncic, albeit by not as many people, while he was a prospect was forgotten. He was a guy who was still young but in bad need of a good run without getting hurt.
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That October he was back with the Nuggets, managed to play 53 games and set a career high in points per game. Still, he wasn’t able to be all there all the time. The injury bug has been cruel to Gallinari but his overall body of work had enough games in it to see that, on balance, he was more than an asset worth having. Just keeping him from going down for extended periods was tough.
63 games the following season, his third most in his career to date, was followed by the move to the Clippers where, well, he got hurt a couple of times and ended up only playing 21 games. He needed something to bounce his way, he was due it, and finally he seems to have got it this year.
Appearing in 55 of the 66 games for the Clippers this season, he’s gone to work and delivered plenty. 18.9 points per game while shooting 42.9 per cent from three (his best since his rookie season), to go with a career high 6 rebounds per game, and Gallo is getting it done on a team that’s going to the post-season.
He hasn’t suited up in the playoffs since 2012, at 30 he still has several good years left as a top tier contributor in the NBA. The fear was his body would show the years sooner. If anything all that time off the court has kept him fresh, he’s playing strong and bringing the right kind of aggression to his game. Most importantly, he looks like he could realistically go close to or even hit 70 games on the season. That’s nothing to sniff at after everything the guy has dealt with.
Now, he’s in a good place. For all the moves made by the Clippers the last two seasons that appear to have way more going out than coming in, he’s on a side that owns it city on the floor and is well placed to give him some serious support next season.
As for Gallo, he’s still here and he’s still kicking ass.
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