Gallinari: Best supporting factor for LeBron

In this ESPN Insider piece laying out the Knicks’ free agent sales pitch, Chad Ford says the Knicks’ current supporting cast will be a big part of the courtship:

"The idea is to let LeBron or Wade handle the ball and surround them with long, athletic players who can spread the floor, opening up the lane for penetration and kickouts. In a column last week, John Hollinger used a statistical breakdown to describe a similar strategy, and the Knicks concur ...

"In particular, the Knicks believe 21-year-old Danilo Gallinari, who was second in the NBA in 3-pointers made (186-for-488, 38.1 percent), and 23-year-old Wilson Chandler, a slashing wing player who shot 52.4 percent on field goals inside the arc, would thrive alongside a star playmaker."

Chandler may be a fantastic finisher at the rim, but the real carrot here is Gallinari. He will help usher in a new, more efficient brand of Knicks basketball, a style that made Mike D’Antoni the most sought after coach in the game.

Knicks fans might glance at Gallinari’s .423 field goal percentage and counter with skepticism, but reducing Gallinari down to that one number completely ignores why he’s one of the most valuable commodities in the game. Guess how many players in the history of the NBA have maintained a .381 3-point percentage on at least 400 3-pointers over a course of a season? 83. And guess how many were 21 years old? Just Gallinari. He’s as efficient as they come.

Gallinari offers something that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have never had: a real stretch four. Sure, James had Antawn Jamison this year and Wade has had Michael Beasley but they can’t shoot it like Gallinari. Despite his sharpshooter reputation, Jamison grades out as an average 3-point shooter at his very best and became a liability on both ends of the floor in the playoffs. Beasley took a big step back in his second-year, shooting just .275 on 3-pointers while only taking about one 3-pointer per game. But Gallinari, on the other hand, represents the very best in the game.

The scariest part is that Gallinari has been this deadly from downtown without an offensive force to consistently draw his defender away to double team. But with James, Wade, Chris Bosh and Amar'e Stoudemire all on the table this summer, that’s about to change. And so will everyone’s appreciation for Danilo Gallinari.

Tom Haberstroh is a regular contributor to ESPN Insider and an NBA analyst for Hoopdata.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @tomhaberstroh.