The Atlanta Hawks are benefitting from Danilo Gallinari’s defined role

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Michael Wyke/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Michael Wyke/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Atlanta Hawks traded for Danilo Gallinari, they sent two second-round draft picks to the OKC Thunder and got a starting-caliber player for three years at $60 million. This was a steal for the Hawks but it did mean they needed to carve out some playing time for the sweet-shooting big man.

This was made more complex by the injury suffered by Gallinari in the first week of the season. When Gallinari came back into the lineup, it seems that Lloyd Pierce had set his rotations and gameplans. He struggled to find a role for Gallinari.

After the Hawks dismissed Pierce, interim head coach Nate McMillan has understood how to use Gallinari. He has given the power forward a key role off the bench, which he has been able to replicate when pressed into the starting role.

How the Atlanta Hawks are using Danilo Gallinari in a beneficial role

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For starters, Gallinari is getting better minutes than he was under Pierce. Prior to the All-Star break, Gallinari was being used for only 21.9 minutes per night. This included the 39 minutes he played against the Orlando Magic as well. He is averaging 30.7 minutes under McMillan.

Comparing his raw averages and shooting percentages, there is a stark difference in his production playing under the two coaches. Pre All-Star break, Gallinari was averaging 11.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. Under McMillan, he is averaging 19.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.3 assists.

He is also showing greater efficiency. He was shooting the ball at 39.1 percent from the floor, 38.8 percent from deep, and 93.4 percent from the line which meant he had a 58.2 true shooting percentage on a 22.4 percent usage rate.

Under McMillan, Gallinari is shooting the ball at 51.4 percent from the floor, 48.9 percent from deep, and has not missed a free throw. This gives him a 72.7 true shooting percentage on a usage rate of 20.7.

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With this improved efficiency, Gallinari is opening up the floor for Trae Young to be creative and allows John Collins to play more one-on-one offense. The impact of this is that the Hawks have not lost a game since McMillan took over and Clint Capela has missed two of them. Gallinari has been a huge factor in this.