Danilo Gallinari has yet to play a regular season game for the Los Angeles Clippers, but they are already relying on him.
Under head coach Doc Rivers, the Clippers have historically struggled at the small forward position. On paper at least, that all changed when Los Angeles signed Gallinari to a three-year, $65 million contract this summer.
Although Gallinari has struggled with injuries in the past, he’s coming off a relatively healthy season with the Denver Nuggets, who acquired the Italian in the blockbuster trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. In 63 games, the small forward averaged 18.2 PPG and 5.2 RPG. One of Gallo's best attributes is that he can also get to the free-throw line and last year, he went to charity stripe more than six times per game on average.
Gallinari arrives in Los Angeles as one of their best shooters. Lou Williams, Austin Rivers, and Patrick Beverley will likely account for the rest of the team's three-point shooting.
Gallinari will help replace the outside shooting left vacated by the departures of Chris Paul and J.J. Redick. Neither Blake Griffin nor DeAndre Jordan are shooting threats from the perimeter, and newcomer Milos Teodosic has yet to show that he can comfortably knock down outside shots.
In a league dominated by three-point shooting, Gallinari’s presence looms larger than ever. Not only must he stay healthy, he must convert from the outside at a similar rate as he did in 2016-17. With the Denver Nuggets, Gallinari shot 38.9 percent from beyond the three-point line.
He does not lack in confidence, either. When asked where the Clippers’ frontcourt–comprised of himself, Griffin, and Jordan–rank, Gallinari did not hesitate. “Number 1. No doubt,” he told CBS Sports.
The new acquisition is also capable of playing multiple positions. When the Clippers play teams known for playing small-ball lineups–like the Golden State Warriors–Griffin might play a significant amount at the center position, which will shift Gallinari over to power forward. At 6-foot-10, he’s more than capable of making the move. Such a lineup would give Doc Rivers greater flexibility and athleticism to run up and down the court with faster paced teams.
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