Can Gallo get his groove back? (Ctd)

Ten days ago, Danilo Gallinari’s 21 point outing versus Golden State, including some big plays down the stretch, was the difference maker in the Nuggets’ victory. At that time it was his best game of the season. And on its heels we explored the possibility that it might mark the beginning of a turnaround to what had up to that point been a fairly dreadful season for the Rooster.

With last night’s win at Memphis, Denver now has played ten games in the 2012-13 season. This is a small sample size to be sure, but nonetheless it may provide at least enough information to sketch a rough outline of Gallo’s current trajectory.

Yesterday’s big news was Danilo’s clutch 3-pointer to effectively seal the win against the league-leading Grizzlies on their home court. A favorite NBA analyst question regarding the Nuggets has been, “Who will be the go-to guy when games are on the line?” Gallinari is obviously one of Denver’s prime candidates, and it was great to see him deliver.

He also was more effective than he had been in far too long at getting to the free throw line by attacking the rim. Overall, it was a gritty, hard fought game (if not very pretty at times), and Gallinari played well and played tough on both ends of the floor, raising the bar on his best game of the season.

Based on the eyeball test, Danilo is starting to put his struggles to rest. Whether it’s because he’s more fully recovering from his ankle injury, recapturing his mental focus, just shaking off a plain old shooting slump, or some combination of these and other factors, his recent play has clearly been improving.

The numbers bear out his improved play of late. Here are Gallo’s averages in the first five games, the five games after that, and the differences between the two (stats from

The most encouraging sign is that his dismal shooting percentages have taken a big upswing across the board. Danilo’s three shooting in particular is still far short of where the Nuggets need it to be, but it appears we should be cautiously optimistic that his shot may be regressing to the neighborhood of his career percentages. And of course, along with better shooting has come better scoring production, as he’s averaging 5.6 points per game more in the last five games.

Gallo’s eleven trips to the charity stripe in Memphis were another huge positive, but unfortunately that game was an outlier. In seven games prior to that, he averaged a measly 1.6 free throw attempts, in comparison to 4.9 last season, and 6.3 the season before. It’s absolutely imperative for him to get back to driving to the basket and getting to the line, so let’s hope this last performance will jump start that dimension of his game.

He has slipped slightly in assists and rebounds in the most recent five games, but if this is a byproduct of focusing on getting his shot going again, it’s well worth it for now. Overall, Gallinari does appear to be moving in the right direction, recovering his shooting form and getting his game back on track.

The Nuggets may not need a “superstar” per se, but at the end of the day they need guys who can put the ball in the bucket and points on the board. Gallo has to lead the team on that front, and if he can regain his consistency and a more aggressive mode of play, it may well help some of the others (looking at you Ty Lawson and Andre Iguodala) to get back on track as well.

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Joel is a long time Denver Nuggets (and Broncos) fan from Colorado who's been living in Japan since the mid-90s, and blogging about the Nuggets since 2008. You can contact and follow him on Twitter: @denbutsu.
  • Thomas

    The stats that really matter are his (1) career FG% average and his (2) improvement from season to season.

    A PF that shoots 41% for his career and is not improving year on year on that percentage is not likely to do so in the 5th year of his career.

    Bottom line, he takes too many 3-pointers for a 35% 3pt shooter (last 3 years). If we had a coach who would know how to make him a better player, he could develop into one as he has the skill set.

    Problem is we don’t have that coach and I’m not sure he has the mindset to become that player on a consistent basis.

    • dynamo.joe

      2FG% 47% = 0.94 PPS
      3FG% 35% = 1.05 PPS

      So, unless he’s getting to the line, hoisting 3pt’ers really are his best option.

      • Thomas

        Which is not saying much. Should be shooting 50%+ inside and closer to 40% on threes in order to become our difference maker. Doubtful.

  • Rxmart2

    His FG percentage is meaningless because he takes a lot of 3’s and (should be) getting to the line a ton. The most effective stat for Gallo is his adjusted +- rating, where he consistently excels at a rate higher than the overrated player he replaced. Gallo is an exceptional offensive player who has become a very good defender according to most advanced statistics.

    People clamoring for any sort of trade aren’t seeing just how good the Nuggets play with him on the court. Whether or not it looks pretty I really don’t care.

    • Thomas

      Respectfully disagree, his FG% is certainly meaningful. He is 6 10 and shoots 41% overall, you can’t argue that. If he was a very good 3pt shooter or did not shoot so much from downtown I would agree.

      His TS% is just average, his PER is average. As this team has no proven scorer, you need more from his position.

      I am afraid his ceiling has been reached. I hope I am wrong.

  • magster

    His defense last night deserves mention, and while his rebounding might be down in the last 5 games, he made a big rebound in clutch time last night.

  • Joel

    Thomas and Rxmart2:

    I agree that other stats may have more value in some contexts. However, the only question I’m addressing here is, as the title suggests, “Can Gallo get his groove back?” In other words, can he return to the level of play we saw from him in 2011? More specifically, how optimistic or pessimistic should we be that he will recover from his horrible start to this season?

    In comparing the first set of five games to the second, I’m attempting to zoom in on his trajectory *this* season. Neither career stats or adjusted +/- are good measurements for that purpose. Granted, TS% and eFG% are better measures of shooting efficiency when making player-to-player comparisons. But the raw FG, 3pt and FT percentages are appropriate here, in measuring a single player’s stats in one set of games versus another.

    FWIW, his eFG% and TS% are .324 and .392 in the first five games and .474 and .518 in the next five games, respectively.

    Also, I couldn’t agree more that he should drive more and take fewer threes. I had hoped the emphasis I put in the post on the importance of getting to the line would make that clear, but maybe I should have said it more explicitly. At any rate, 100% in agreement there.

  • CJP32

    Great read Joel, always enjoy your in-depth analysis.

    The concerning thing for me is that Gallo took 25 FT attempts in his first 2 games, then just 11 over his next 7 games. Was that a mental lapse or was more going on? Gallo needs to become the go to guy of this team every night. Ty has taken a major step backwards, and Gallo needs to identify that and take charge.

    When Gallo drives and is aggressive, good things happen. It kind of rubs off on the other guys, like last night vs Memphis, we shot 28 FTs to the Grizzlies 17. Faried, Brewer, McGee all got to the line multiple times because we became aggressive. I also noticed that when we grabbed a def rebound, there was more outlet passes and quicker movement, and thats how Denver score easy baskets.

    I hope Gallo realises that he has the potential to do this every night and be the leader of this group. I hope that last night was not a one off, or one evry 10 games thing.

    Also, this win vs Memphis means nothing if we lose to Minny tomorrow whilst they are missing Rubio, Love, Chase, Roy and Barea.

  • k

    I feel the problem is the system. It allows Gallo to float to the perimeter and shoot so many 3’s . It is what makes Chandler look lost out there. What is Iggy’s role? I don’t think he knows, defense sure, but on offense?
    Obviously ty can do way better. If he is aggressive everything falls into place. But the real problem is GK. I thought I use to get mad when he would play Anthony Carter, this season has taken it to another level. My money is on McGee choking him out after being pulled after 7 minutes again.
    I think this season has 1St round flame out all over it unless we shed some players to define roles or that GK starts coaching for real. I don’t think we need a superstar, just play as a energized team.

    • CJP32

      In relation to Iggy, 11 games into the season and one thing has been pretty clear – he still doesn’t know where or how he fits into this team. He does a little bit of everything, but nothing really stands out in his game. Season averages are 36 mpg, 6.5 rebs, 3.8 asts, 1.0 stls and 13.2 pts on 43% FG Shooting. Each of the past 5 games, his point totals have dropped. He at times looks confused, disinterested, unmotivated. Is this the wrong system for his playing style?

      But the biggest thing for me is that his +/- is the worst on the team at -42. Iggy was brought in to shore up our perimeter defense, but so far, that hasn’t happened.

      My suggestion is maybe bring him off the bench and let him play with the 2nd unit of McGee and Dre. Heres a few reasons why:

      -Iggy and Dre have played together before and seem to work together well
      -Moving Iggy to the bench allows Ty and Gallo to become the top scoring options for the starting 5
      -It reduces the need for a two PG lineup that GK loves
      -Corey Brewer provides great energy, defense and has the best +/- on the team at +16, and is also our best three point shooter from the corner at 42%, he can focus on playing defense and not taking over 10 shots per game.

      Iggy will still play starter liker mins, it just means hopefully with the switch, we get off to better starts and we have a great scorer coming off the bench.

  • Jazz

    Gallo must be that 18, 19 or 20 pt player for the Nuggets to win. Here are some other stats that should happen Faried 10+ rebounds, Lawson 8+ assist, Mcgee 13 pts, 8 + reb, 3 BLks. Get where I’m going with this Nugget Nation. Go nuggets!!!!!!!!

    • Henry

      It’s almost like you’re suggesting we must have effective players in order for the team to be successful. That’s patently absurd!