Speculation continues to surround the topic of Knicks line-ups. Experts have come to the conclusion, it seems that Wilson Chandler will start at the two and Ronny Turiaf will be the first pivot on the floor. However, it seems to me, amidst all the discussion about Wilson Chandler's impending problems playing out of position at the two (when he is clearly a small forward), experts and community members alike have decided Danilo Gallinari can and should get some time as New York's two-guard. The logic? Simple: Gallinari can shoot, so he should be the shooting guard. He won't have too difficult a time defending other, 6'5" shooting guards because he has so much length to bother shots he can play off his man.
To this I say: Phooey.
Danilo Gallinari came into the league with a reputation as a heady player reminiscent to most basketball efforts of Tony Kukoc. Over the past couple of years, however, those who have watched Gallinari have observed that he is more similar to a taller Manu Ginobili or a Dirk Nowitzki lite. He emulates the former with his smooth stroke and strange angles on the drive, which allow him to draw fouls and finish strangely against many defender who do not know any better. His stature and attitude remind some of Nowitzki who can make it rain with the best of them and has no ordinary gait himself.
Other comparisons include Rashard Lewis, for obvious reasons (nearly identical statistics), and Hedo Turkoglu.
To me, the Ginobili and Turkoglu comparisons have been particularly damaging to the stylistic and athletic perceptions of Danilo Gallinari. While he is plainly a talented shooter, he is overrated in this aspect.
For simple measure, if Gallo were to play shooting guard, his 38.1% from behind the arc would make him 17th most accurate in the Association last year. There are simple and popular counter-arguments, such as his shot selection (which is actually an argument available for both sides), which had to be skewed because of his willingness in the clutch and his forced-shot nature due to his lack of competent teammates. But when I told you he would have been 17th in the league, I forgot to mention he would rank one spot behind former teammate Jamal Crawford.
Now re-read that last paragraph.
38.1% places him fourth among small forwards and fifth among power forwards.
Now, just to be safe, let's compare floor-position shooting statistics between two players on the Knicks.
10-15 feet: 42.9%
16-23 feet: 38.0%
10-15 feet: 44.4%
16-23 feet: 42.0%
Stoudemire, based on these 2009-2010 statistics from hoopdata, is a better midrange shooter than Gallinari.
So, if Gallo doesn't shoot as well as Stoudemire from mid-range, wouldn't that mean, in this aspect of his game, Stoudemire is as qualified to play the shooting guard position as Gallinari?
Let me ask you another, much more subjective question. Who is quicker on the dribble-drive: Danilo Gallinari or Amar'e Stoudemire? Think about it.
If Stoudemire is as fast as Gallinari on the drive, which I would argue at this point in their respective careers isn't even close, and he is a better shooter from midrange, wouldn't that mean he is as qualified to play the shooting guard position as Gallo?
As I mentioned up above, another argument that Gallinari can play the two-guard is that he has enough length to bother opposing shooting guards defensively. But Gallinari's defensive strengths: guarding the pick-and-roll, moving laterally for his size and bothering shots with his length, match-up great in both one-on-one and weakside defense. The defensive arena in which he is least comfortable, off-the-ball "chasing-through-screens" defense is the one most often required to guard shooting guards. We can all wish Gallo luck chasing Anthony Morrow, Ben Gordon, Rip Hamilton, Mike Miller, JJ Reddick, and Ray Allen through baseline screens.
While it's ridiculous to make the case that Amar'e Stoudemire could play shooting guard, I think to make the case for Gallinari is not too far off. Although I do not typically subscribe to the "This guys is a shooting guard, this guy is a power forward, this guy is blah blah blah" mentality, I think it is plain to see that Il Gallo is a forward. Small or Power, I do not know, but he is some sort of forward. To use him every now and then in a huge line-up at the two spot might be interesting and useful (and necessary to negate his lack of rebounding), but to make the argument that it would be easy for him to make the shift just because he can stroke it? Well, that's just plain ridiculous.