Danilo Gallinari has started off the 2012-13 season in an atrocious slump, shooting just .300 from the field.205 from the arc, and .741 from the charity stripe, far below his career averages of .415, .361 and .849, respectively. He’s been playing less aggressively, driving to the rim and getting to the foul line less often. The silver lining thus far has been his defense, which has been solid, and his rebounding , which is up to 6.8 per 36 minutes from 5.4 last season.
That last stat somewhat convolutes what has been the party line explanation for Gallo’s shooting slump – the ankle sprain he incurred just prior to the start of the season. If he can’t get his shot off right because his ankle is tweaked, then how is it he’s pulling down more boards, which tends to involve a bit of jumping? He also just doesn’t look gimpy out there. He’s running the court just fine, doesn’t seem to have any problems with lateral movement on defense. Sometimes a slump is just a slump, and that’s where the smart money might be in this case.
The dreadful shooting continued through the beginning of last Saturday’s game at Golden State. It wasn’t until the third quarter with 9:25 remaining that Danilo finally sunk his first basket of the game, a 3-pointer from the top of the arc. Until that shot he had gone 0-10, including 0-4 3-pointers.
Things did change after that first made three, however. From that point onward, Gallinari shot 8-12 (.667) from the field and 3-7 (.429) from he arc. He made some huge clutch 3-pointers at critical points in the game, and in overtime started driving to the rim for the first time since… well, who can remember how long ago that was? In the end, the Nuggets victory really came down to Gallo coming alive at the right time. It was the first time this season he seemed to be recovering a semblance of his offensive game, and it was quite a relief for Nuggets fans to see that it hasn’t disappeared altogether.
But was it just a fluke? Can he build on his successful finish last Saturday to climb out of the terrible rut he’s been in and shake off his slump? Only time will tell, but if it’s true that it’s not his ankle, but rather some kind of mental issue like confidence or focus, his performance against the Warriors just might be the spark needed to help him reclaim his mojo.