It's been a while since the Los Anglese Clippers decided they weren’t going to pay Tobias Harris this offseason and sent him to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala, Wilson Chandler and two beautiful first-round picks. At this point, the Clippers were 8th seeded and Tobis Harris was considered their best player in the roster.
He was the hero in previous night's 117-115 comeback win against the Charlotte Hornets, as he both scored 34 points and nailed the game-winning floater with 4.3 seconds left.
Bye Bye playoff, welcome free agency.
The Clippers wanted to move themselves into contention as players in the marketplace for stars wanting to get to the Los Angeles market, and the picks could go a long way to building a significant arsenal. There's a few names on Jerry's West blocknote: Kahwi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving among the others.
What nobody expected, is to find the Clippers in a good playoff stand a few months later, playing solid basketball.
However, any consistent viewer of Clipper games this season could see that it wasn’t Harris who was the Clippers’ most important player. To me, it’s been Danilo Gallinari. Although the second unit - leaded by Lou Williams and Montrez Harrell - is a true weapon in Doc Rivers' hands, the argument can be made that Gallo has been the most consistent player on this roster and perhaps the best player as well.
Let’s start with the fact that Gallo is averaging career highs this season in points, rebounds, and field-goal and three-point percentage at age 30. Let’s also take into account Gallo’s offensive efficiency, where he is currently tied for fourth in the league in three-point percentage (43.8%), fourth in the league in free-throw percentage (90.5%), 11th in true shooting percentage (63.4%), and 15th in offensive box plus/minus (4.2). He’s also fifth in the entire league in offensive rating (124.9), top 20 in first quarter scoring (6.3 avg in 1st), top 20 in win shares per 48 minutes and has a net rating above All-Stars like: LeBron James, Ben Simmons, Kemba Walker, Karl-Anthony Towns and Blake Griffin to name a few. He has also posted his personal best total rebound rate (10.3 percent) in his career as well as his highest assist rate (12.1 percent) since 2012-13 and is ahead of Giannis Antetokounmpo in real offensive plus/minus at 14th in the NBA.
But more than numbers, it's the attitude. He plays a perfect role in Doc Rivers' solid basketball, he does what asked to do and does it in silence.
The beauty of Gallo’s basketball is that he doesn’t need the ball to be good. He is an active player, good at finding open pockets around the arc when players are driving, can attract defensive attention on the perimeter that leaves the paint open for drives and can shoot from many spots.
Is there anything that Gallinari cannot do?
“Gal is surprisingly loud on defense. I didn’t think he was that intrigued by defense,” Rivers said when talking about Gallinari’s defense. “What you find out is the exact opposite. He has a very high IQ. Watching him play, his 1-1 defense is pretty good and he’s very talkative. He’s not a guy that’s going to get down and lock a guy up possession after possession, but as far as team defense, he keeps everyone together.”
As the playoffs come closer and closer, look for Gallinari to make an impact both defensively and offensively, as he will be a pivotal player during the final month of basketball to help the young Clippers team to make a playoff run.
Still, he does not get much recognition. His name's not trending on Instgram, he's not involved in all star game discussion, you won’t see viral tweets of plays he makes or game winners.
Let'so not change that. Let him play hidden from media's radar, and see whare this could lead th Clippers.