Despite all the internal developments within the Boston Celtics roster last season, shooting was still a significant concern heading into the postseason. Sure, Grant Williams’ evolution into a proper corners deadeye was a welcome sight, but if he suddenly started to struggle on the court, there weren’t many other places to look.
Yes, Aaron Nesmith and Sam Hauser were on the roster, but neither of those players planned to make an impact at either end of the pitch, which meant Ime Udoka wouldn’t give them playing time unless his hand was not forced.
Luckily, this problem doesn’t seem to continue into next season as the acquisition of Danilo Gallinari on a two-year contract has filled this hole. Suddenly, the Celtics have an extra shooter to attack teams from the perimeter, allowing Boston to slowly reduce defensive patterns.
Williams can’t play the full 48 minutes every night, and while he’s a legitimate corners threat, you don’t want to see Jaylen Brown play a spot-up role. So, by adding a player of Gallinari’s caliber, Boston has improved its rotation, ensuring there’s always a catch-and-shoot threat that spaces the floor.
Of course, the 14-year-old veteran is more than just a catch-and-shoot threat, and that’s why his addition improves the power of the Celtics’ bench. After all, he’s a player who, in his 33-year-old season, has averaged over 30% from all points from the floor.
As you can see from the shot chart above, the left side of the pitch is definitely a weak spot for the Sant’Angelo Lodigiano native, but even then he’s self-aware enough to limit his firing attempts in these areas.
More importantly, however, Gallinari is comfortable attacking close-outs. The 6’10” striker is good enough to put the ball on the ground and get to his places. He’s also capable of embracing contact before entering his shot move, and let’s be honest, his drop shot is picturesque. Throughout last season we saw Grant Williams work on his ability to drive through defenders as they closed in on his shot, but his limited pull-up game left a lot to be desired, so one would hope that Gallinari’s presence can help him improve. in that respect – so does Sam Hauser.
Take the game above for example. As Gallinari comes out of the corner and receives the ball, his defender instantly closes space. Rather than delaying or slowing play by calling for a screen, the veteran striker puts the ball on the ground, kisses the bump, gets in his place and generates shooting space. Sure, there’s a point where Gallinari loses his dribble, but he still manages to hold the rock and shoot, and it’s a shot that’s worked for him his entire career, so that’s the one we’re going with we feel comfortable taking it.
Of course, sharing the floor with Boston’s star wings, there will be times when the defense is forced to sag on Gallinari in order to contain drives or roll men elsewhere on the floor, or when he will be used as a screen and can put pressure on the rim if he chooses to roll rather than jump. This is when the veteran addition can use its size and length to cause damage as a cutter/roller around the rim.
While limited, these are the roles we can expect Gallinari to fill coming off the Celtics bench. He’s going to be a catch-and-shoot guy who’s got the go-ahead to attack the fences, be a screen who can function as both a roll-man and a popper, and can pressure the rim with a few well-done cuts. to the basket.
The veteran striker isn’t much of a defender at this stage of his career, due to his limited mobility, especially around the hips. As such, we’ll likely see Udoka hide his new striker on the defensive side of the floor and have him act as a low assist man spinning to score rolls to contest shots at the rim. In truth, there’s nothing wrong with being one of the weakest defenders on the Celtics’ roster, given that there’s already so much elite talent on that side of the court.
Another thing we probably shouldn’t expect to see much of is Gallinari playing as a center next season. In his last two years with the Atlanta Hawks, the veteran played 30% of his minutes on the five and was largely a passenger on his team’s porous defense. Sure, the former 6th draft pick has the size to be in the middle during drop coverage, but his limits on the perimeter will ensure Udoka avoids temptation unless he leaves with a small formation, to which case the benefits hopefully outweigh the harm.
Essentially, Boston added an aging shooter who perfectly fills the shot hole in their offense, without sacrificing too much on the defensive end. Pair Gallinari’s skill set with his size, skill, veteran leadership and locker room presence, and Brad Stevens has gotten the shooter with the size he’s been talking about since taking on the front office.