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Danilo Gallinari

November 6, 2009 – Michael Pina

If you had to guess who’s leading the league in three point shooting through the season’s first week, who would be at the top of your list? Dallas’ seven-foot perennial sharpshooter Dirk Nowitzki? The most consistent and methodical shooter from behind the arc of all time, Ray Allen? How about Gilbert Arenas, one of the coldest (I mean this in a positive way) three point shooters in the league who is looking to re-establish himself among the game’s elite after several knee surgeries temporarily set his career off track?

The answer to this question was foreseen out loud by Mike D’Antoni. A brilliant basketball mind who currently finds himself steering a franchise with arguably the largest fan base in the league and with it the most intense pressure. A coach who in his first draft at the helm risked ridicule and embarrassment by taking a relatively unknown 20-year-old from Sant’ Angelo Lodigiano, Italy; in the process passing on proven homegrown talents like Eric Gordon and Brook Lopez.

If you don’t know by now, the player in question, the one who has nailed nearly as many shots from behind the arc this season as Nowitzki, Allen and Arenas combined, is Danilo Gallinari.

When D’Antoni made the statement over the summer that Gallinari was the best shooter he’d ever seen, it was more than bold. Here’s a coach who had two time MVP and potent deep threat Steve Nash running his offense for the past few seasons. For the past 10 years he’s tried to scheme against the likes of Kobe Bryant, Peja Stojakovich and Reggie Miller. Was he secretly being facetious to appease the millions of loyal Knick fans who at the drop of a hat will call for his head or does he seriously believe in his fellow paisan?

Gallinari’s 4.8 three-pointers a game so far have made his testament true. The sample size is obviously a tiny one, but being a 6’ 10” small forward with a constant green light in New York’s three point loving system, Gallinari looks to be in a perfect situation to break his own shooting records for years and years to come.

What his quick start has also done, is place a welcome mat at Madison Square Garden’s front door for all of the highly touted 2010 free agents to consider setting foot on. Anybody interested in a reliable outside shooter who can get a high percentage trey off whenever he wants? Not saying that the primary reason Lebron James or Dwyane Wade would consider going to the Knicks resides in a 21-year-old who has yet to play a full NBA season, but if he keeps shooting the way he is right now, it could be a step in the right direction.

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