Why Danilo Gallinari is the most crucial piece of the Atlanta Hawks second unit

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The second unit of the Atlanta Hawks has been humming since Cam Reddish was traded. It is the changing of roles, rather than the subtraction of Reddish which has changed the Hawks’ fortunes. A lot of this has to do with the play of Danilo Gallinari.

The veteran was originally traded to the Hawks in the 2020-21 pre-season from the OKC Thunder as part of a sign and trade. He had been a starter for the Thunder but since coming to the Hawks, Gallinari has primarily been a bench player.

This change in role says a lot about the mentality of Gallinari, who is willing to do what is required to help his team win. Since Reddish left, the second unit has been playing through Gallinari more and more and as a result, the unit has been hugely successful.

The Atlanta Hawks are utilizing Danilo Gallinari effectively

Prior to Reddish leaving, Gallinari was averaging 9.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 22.6 minutes per game. His shooting was at his usual efficiency, going at 41.0 percent from the floor, 39.2 percent from the perimeter, and 93.8 percent from the line.

Since the Reddish trade, Gallinari has averaged 12.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 25.7 minutes per game. He has kept almost the same level of efficiency, going 43.0 percent from the floor, 38.0 percent from the perimeter, and 87.1 percent from the line.

However, as is the case with the Hawks, numbers only tell part of the story with Gallinari and the second unit. When he is on the court, the ball goes through his hands, whether it is when he is in the post or on the perimeter.

Gallinari is at his most effective when the Hawks use him in the post in a mismatch. He is either able to get a good shot off or manages to get to the line as his opponent is forced to foul him. However, Gallinari is also able to make a good pass out to the perimeter if he sees no other option.

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This is where having shooters like Lou Williams and Bogdan Bogdanovic around him helps Gallinari. By using him in the post more the Hawks are unlocking the potential of the second unit. If Gallinari is just used on the perimeter then the Hawks lose options on offense. This way the offense never looks the same two times down the court and the defense cannot adjust to stop them.