Danilo Gallinari had a rough first season in a Clippers’ jersey. Signed to a 3 year, $60 million deal last summer, Gallo appeared in only 21 games last season, missing almost 3⁄4 of the season. Even when he did play, he was largely ineffective, posting the lowest field goal percentage and three point percentage of his career.
One way or another, Gallinari is incredibly important to this Clippers’ season. If he’s healthy, and plays well, they have a good chance of being competitive, even in the tough Western Conference. Even if the rest of the team struggles, a good, healthy season from Gallo could rehab some of his lost trade value, enabling the Clippers to flip him at the trade deadline without sacrificing assets, as they’d have to do right now. If Gallo has another injury-plagued season, the Clippers are much less likely to make the playoffs, and they will be stuck riding out his expensive contract for the remainder of the year.
Therefore, it’s a fantastic sign that he was healthy and looked spry in the NBA Africa game yesterday morning. He was moving well on the court, had several dunks, and overall appeared to be ready to play basketball against NBA players. Yes, the game was mostly a casual contest, more like an All Star game than a competitive bout. Still, the game was close down the stretch, and Gallinari was able to hit two big shots to seal the win for Team World. Those shots, and his overall superb effort (23 points and 8 rebounds on 9-10 shooting) were enough to give him the Manute Bol MVP award.
The season is still two months away, and any number of things could happen before then. But the Clippers know Danilo is healthy and in game shape right now, and that’s great news as training camp looms. Compare this to last summer, when Gallo broke his wrist after hitting an opposing player in the face during an international competition. If that play and injury were a portend for his 2017-2018 season, perhaps his standout play in the NBA Africa is a look at what will happen this upcoming season.
Let’s just hope Danilo stays healthy between now and training camp, and is ready to have a strong bounceback campaign.