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Danilo Gallinari’s Doppelgängers

The new Washington Wizards forward could be a pleasant surprise this season. Who could we compare him to?

Miami Heat v Atlanta Hawks - Game Three
New Wizards forward Danilo Gallinari
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Don’t mistake the old guy hobbling on stiff legs made stiffer by a knee injury as an accurate representation of what Danilo Gallinari was as a player. Over 13 seasons, he’s been a dangerous offensive weapon and outstanding shooter.

As age slowed him down, his shooting got even better — three consecutive seasons shooting 40% or better from three-point range, followed by 38.1% at age 33 with the Atlanta Hawks. He’s shot better than 90% from the free throw line six times. He came up just short twice more: by three made free throws (out of 298 attempts) in 2019-20, and just one make (out of 191 attempts) in 2014-15.

His rebounding was okay at best, and he wasn’t much of a playmaker for teammates — he was a scorer, not a passer. And he rarely committed turnovers.

Did his defense stink? Yep, which is one of the reasons why he got All-NBA votes only once and never made an All-Star team.

Still, he’s been a valuable player for the better part of a decade, and he peaked (at least in my analysis) at a borderline All-NBA level in 2018-19.

Of course, the Wizards aren’t getting that guy. They’re getting the 35-year old who had declined steeply the last two seasons he played, and then missed all of last season with a torn ACL (the second time in his career he’s missed an entire season due to an ACL tear).

So let’s get to the comps. The Statistical Doppelgänger Machine factors age and an array of pace-neutral statistical categories like minutes played, usage, preferred shot types, offensive and defensive rebounding, assists, steals, blocks, turnovers, fouls, scoring, and an overall measure of the player’s production relative to era.

Gallinari’s comps are based on the last time he played, which was the 2021-22 season. Interestingly, his comps fit a pattern: mostly good shooters and good all-around players nearing the end of good careers.

  1. Michael Finley, 2006-07, San Antonio Spurs (also 2005-06, 2007-08) — Confession: I associate Finley with the Dallas Mavericks and forgot he played with the Spurs at the end of his career. He was a solid wing for a decade (I have him with 10 seasons that were average or better). He got to the Spurs at age 32, and he was still useful in his way, though he’d definitely lost a step.
  2. Mike Dunleavy, 2011-12, Milwaukee Bucks (also 2012-13) — Decent player who somehow lasted 15 NBA seasons. Good shooter who could straight line attack closeouts. Not much defense or rebounding.
  3. DeMarre Carroll, 2018-19, Brooklyn Nets — A wing whose reputation always seemed to eclipse his on-court production, he was still a pretty good player. He lasted 11 seasons despite a liver illness diagnosed in college that required a transplant when he stopped playing, and getting shot in the ankle (also while in college).
  4. Ray Allen, 2012-13, Miami Heat — One of the top names in “greatest shooter of all-time” conversations until Stephen Curry came along. Allen was a terrific player who had a Hall of Fame career. This was his second to last season (age 37), and he’d slowed considerably from his younger days.
  5. Jeff Green, 2018-19, Washington Wizards (also 2019-20, Houston Rockets) — Green was (and is) more athletic than Gallinari ever was, but at least in Washington he played with a similar kind of defense, rebounding, playmaking optional kind of style that Gallinari has shown in the latter part of his career. Green, by the way, has played for 11 franchises in his 15 seasons. No, the Rockets don’t make it 12 in 16 — he was in Houston for 18 games in 2019-20.
  6. Sam Perkins, 1995-96, Seattle Supersonics — NBA eras are funny. Perkins arrived to the league in 1984, and it wasn’t until a trade in his 10th season that anyone thought maybe they should let him shoot threes. He ended up playing 17 seasons — the last several as a stretch 4/5.
  7. Caron Butler, 2012-13, Los Angeles Clippers — This wasn’t the same Tuff Juice maniac who roamed the floor for the Wizards. Butler’s last better than average season was in 2008-09 (age 28). At 32, he was still decent, but well into the age-related decline portion of his career.
  8. Eric Piatkowski, 2000-01, Los Angeles Clippers — Terrific wing shooter for the endlessly crummy Clippers teams of that era.
  9. Rudy Gay, 2019-20, San Antonio Spurs — After spending most of his career launching midrange jumpers, Gay began shooting more ages 33, 34, and 35. He’s played 17 seasons so far.
  10. Eddie Johnson, 1996-97, Houston Rockets — I’ve always thought of Johnson as being a lifelong member of the Phoenix Suns, even though he played there for only three-and-a-quarter seasons. Maybe it’s because he’s the Suns’ color analyst on TV. Once before a Suns vs. Wizards game, he spent 10 minutes telling me how great a shooter and scorer he was. He told me he was the NBA’s all-time leader in points scored off the bench. At the time, it was true. He’s since been passed by Lou Williams, Jamal Crawford, and Dell Curry.