While I was in Las Vegas at Summer League following the Nuggets 2012-13 season, I overheard a couple NBA figures discussing Danilo Gallinari and his recent ACL injury. The person doing most of the talking was fairly skeptical that Gallo would be able to return to form and seriously doubted how aggressive he'd be upon return.
I found the conversation laughable. Had the two been aware that Corey Brewer underwent ACL surgery earlier in his career? It certainly didn't affect the way C-Brew attacked. How well did these folks know Gallo's mindset?
Well, Gallo made his return to the floor in Phoenix against the Suns on Oct. 10th and didn't appear to miss a beat. He is in very good shape, ran well, shot well, and attacked the paint. Gallo played 14 minutes, all in the first half, and put up 17 points on 5-9 shooting (2-4 from deep, 5-7 at the foul line) to go along with 4 rebounds and 1 assist.
Getting Gallo's career 84% free throw shooting and 4.5 attempts per game back into the lineup is going to make Brian Shaw a happy man. Shaw has already stated that he wants the team to shoot better from the foul line, but getting poor foul shooters to drastically improve is a long shot. The way to improve team free throw shooting is by having your good free throwers get themselves to the line. If this game was any indication, Gallo is back on track.
Here is his shot chart from the game.
That's nice distribution. Gallo is a much needed play-maker and his ability to stretch the floor sets up defenders for drives to the rim. Let's take a look at some of Gallo's highlights from the Phoenix game.
Play 1: Coast to coast finish in traffic:
Gallo goes coast-to-coast with a defensive board and one of his classic herky-jerky layups in traffic. This play was actually somewhat similar to the one where he got injured against the Mavericks. He drove the left side of the paint, trusted his body and converted the play in traffic.
Play 2: Gallo jumper:
Gallo gets a hand in the face of the shooter on the defensive end, flies up right hand side of the floor, gets smashed by Markieff Morris under the hoop, and then uses a Nate Robinson screen to free himself up just inside the three-point line to nail a jump shot. (Hat tip to Jusuf Nurkic on the assist - as an aside, how about Nurkic settling down against the Suns and going for 8 points and 12 rebounds?!)
Play 3: Gallo uses a pump fake to get open layup:
Gallo (and Timofey Mozgov's presence) gets Marcus Morris to settle for a jumper, takes the ball up the floor, dishes to NateRob, wheels around the defense, comes back to the ball from Gary Harris, waits for Harris to clear out, attacks the baseline, gets two Suns to bite on the initial layup, and tosses in an easy reverse lay in.
It's just one preseason game, but Gallo should gain confidence from this performance. Good to see him back on the court doing Gallo things.