Atlanta Hawks: Danilo Gallinari’s reaction to bench role shows why team signed him

The Atlanta Hawks will put Danilo Gallinari in a reserve role in 2020-21

The Atlanta Hawks made a pretty splashy move when they signed Danilo Gallinari (via a trade) for three years and $61.5 million. Along with their acquisition of Bogdan Bogdanovic and drafting of Onyeka Okongwu, it made for an exciting offseason of additions for the Hawks.

While Okongwu’s development is going to be a topic of focus over the next several seasons, and it remains to be seen how far Bogdanovic can go away from Sacramento, Gallinari is more of a known talent.

And what we know is good. Arguably one of the most underrated active players in the league, Gallinari has averaged 16.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game over the course of his career.

One might think that Gallo deserves a starting spot over the incumbent starting four, John Collins. It’s now been made clear that Collins will retain his starting spot and Gallo will come off the bench, giving some more clarity to a fluid starting five for the Hawks. His initial reaction was made clear this week.

Danilo Gallinari’s response to the Atlanta Hawks “benching” him:

When asked about whether or not it was true that he would be coming off the bench, Danilo Gallinari had this to say in his first media availability, h/t Peachtree Hoops:

“It’s true… One of the things I said before that excites me is the young guys that we got are very, very good and very talented, and I do believe in the young guys we’ve got. The young guys we’ve got are very, very good. If I didn’t believe in these young guys, I wouldn’t have picked the ATL. I really believe in the group that we’ve got. My focus since I’ve been playing basketball is winning. Whatever the coach wants me to do and needs me to do win, that’s what I’m going to do.’’

This quote does a few things.

Firstly, he answered the question immediately. No dancing around with “we’ll see what happens in training camp” about if he would break into the starting five or not. Gallo has made it clear — I’m coming off the bench, no complaints.

Second, he goes immediately into talking about the young talent on the roster and his belief in them. He’s not talking about his career and where he’s at (or why he’s OK accepting a bench role).

Third, he names the goal — To win. The fact that the Hawks sold him on competing as his career winds down makes it clear that the organization is serious about a playoff push this year.

Gallinari is good enough that he could make a bigger scene about wanting to start. But accepting his role, no matter how big or small, in the name of aiming for victory, is mature and something that should influence the development of his younger teammates.

The humility is admirable, and more importantly for Hawks fan, the primary goal of letting the youth shine while still not losing sight of the need for wins is great to see.

From day one, Gallo is setting quite the veteran example. Atlanta is lucky to have gotten him.