Many have overlooked the very impressive showing that 30-year-old Danilo Gallinari has shown for the Clippers so far this season.
It is easy to look at the surprisingly pricy three-year, $64 million deal that he earned during the 2017 offseason without an All-Star appearance and think of the deal as a bit of a disappointment. However, he has been playing up to his deal this year and has been one of the more fascinating cases of someone getting better with age in the NBA.
Gallinari has been in the league since 2008, but going into this season he had only appeared in 60-plus games three times.
All too often sidelined by injury, it was hard for him to find a rhythm as the dominant scorer he knew he was capable of becoming. Yet this season, he is averaging 1.15 points per possession. That ranks third-best among all high-volume contributors (minimum: 800 possessions) in the NBA, according to Synergy Sports Tech.
He also boasts a career-high in true shooting percentage (62.7 percent) and Player Efficiency Rating (19.7) through 51 games. His PER is No. 6 overall among all qualified players at his position, via RealGM.
“I’ve been playing for a while,” Gallinari told HoopsHype when asked about recovering from his injuries to get back to the level of production he knew he was capable of reaching. “I know what I can bring to the table. I was never worried about that.”
Meanwhile, he has also posted his personal best total rebound rate (10.3 percent) in his career as well as his highest assist rate (12.1 percent) since 2012-13.
When looking at his catch-all production on offense, according to ESPN’s Offensive Real Plus-Minus, he is in the Top 20. In fact, Gallinari trails just Paul George, Kevin Durant and LeBron James among all small forwards in this measurement.
Of course, this is all amidst a ton of roster turnover for the Clippers so far this season. Gallinari, meanwhile, has been a consistent source of offense throughout.
He has played particularly well since the front office landed rookie guard Landry Shamet.
Gallinari has averaged 25.9 points per 36 minutes when on the court with the former Wichita State standout. During the 119 minutes they have played together thus far, the team has outscored opponents by 5.4 points per 100 possessions despite losing All-Star candidate Tobias Harris in the deal.
He has also looked very sharp when he has appeared with veteran guard Patrick Beverley during their 820 minutes together as well.
The team has a positive net rating in those situations while Gallinari has averaged 25.6 points per 36. Gallinari is also shooting a staggering 30-for-53 (56.6 percent) from three-point range after passes from Beverley.
His three-point shooting has been his most lauded trait, connecting on 43.8 percent of his looks from downtown this season.
That has been his best mark since his rookie campaign in 2008-09 and ranks in the 92nd percentile among players at his position, per Cleaning the Glass.
“I’m very comfortable,” explained Gallinari. “That’s something that I work on at the gym and at practice every day.”
Gallinari has most often finished possessions as a spot-up shooter for the Clippers. He is averaging 1.12 points per possession on this play type. That puts him in the 80th percentile, via Synergy.
Meanwhile, he is averaging 1.28 points per possession (90th percentile) on catch-and-shoot opportunities. He has scored 5.0 points per game off the catch, which puts him in the Top 20 among all NBA players. Overall, he has helped his team record the second-most points per possession on catch-and-shoot plays.
“When you are efficient in spot-up shooting, I think that is mostly because of your teammates and the style that we play,” continued Gallinari. “My teammates are finding me at the right time and in the right place. We have a lot of passing ability on this team.”
According to Synergy, he has also been fantastic coming off screens. This is also a credit to his chemistry with teammate Montrezl Harrell. The big man has recorded 214 screen assists this season, which is currently the sixth-most in the Western Conference.
When this play is called, Gallinari is averaging 1.19 points per possession. Among those who have finished at least 65 possessions coming off a screen, just three players (including two-time MVP Stephen Curry and 2018 NBA three-point contest champion Joe Harris) have been more efficient.
Overall only a dozen players in the West have averaged more points per game from jump shots. He has averaged 1.01 points per possession (85th percentile) off the dribble this season, which displays his fantastic skill set to create his own shot as well.
His resumé might scream sharpshooter, though he is capable of doing much more than that. Gallinari has been impressive when asked to run the offense as the primary ballhandler in the pick-and-roll. Including passes, he ranks in the 96th percentile among all players in the league on PnRs.
Perhaps most surprising, though, is that he has been terrific when posting up on smaller defenders. He is not a big man but stands at 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, so he often has a size advantage when guarded by forwards.
He has taken just 1.2 field goal attempts per game on post-up possessions. But among those who have finished at least 90 possessions on this play type, none have been more efficient than the Italian-born NBA player.
Given his overall production on the basketball court, it is hard to find a more well-rounded player who has been as efficient as Gallinari has this season.