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KNICKS TOUT SHOOTING STAR SARATOGA SPRINGS -- New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni raised more than a few eyebrows last week when he discussed forward Danilo Gallinari, the team's first-round pick a year ago.

"He's the best shooter I've ever seen," D'Antoni, a 36-year veteran of professional Basketball, told the New York media.

That's high praise in a sport that's produced the likes of Reggie Miller, Ray Allen and Larry Bird.

D'Antoni was asked about his claim again on Wednesday morning after the Knicks practiced at Skidmore College. Although D'Antoni backed off slightly -- "Is he the best? I don't know" -- the coach was still willing to put the 21-year-old Gallinari in elite company.

"He just makes it every time, so I haven't seen anybody better than that," D'Antoni said. "I'd put him up there. He can go out and make 25 straight 3s, then he'll make 10 straight left-handed 3s. There aren't many people in the world who can do that."

The 6-foot-10 Gallinari, a native of Italy, didn't have much of an opportunity to showcase his marksmanship last season. Back problems limited him to 28 games after the Knicks made him the sixth overall choice in the draft.

He underwent surgery in April and is practicing this week at Skidmore. His health forced him to sit out camp as a rookie.

"I feel much better," Gallinari said. "I can start to work with the team since training camp, so it's a big difference from last year."

The Knicks view Gallinari as one of the young cornerstones of their rebuilding franchise and expect him to play a significant role this year.

"As big as he can muster," D'Antoni said. "We expect a lot from him. He'll have his ups and downs. He's still kind of a rookie. We expect him to contribute. We just hope he stays healthy."

If he can stay on the court, Gallinari could get opportunities for 3s in D'Antoni's up-tempo offense.

"Every time he shoots, pretty much everyone thinks it's going in because he's that consistent and that accurate," Knicks point guard Chris Duhon said. "I think he has to get the game speed down because he's been gone for a little bit, but when he does, you'll see how well he can shoot the ball."

Although he averaged only 6.1 points per game last season, Gallinari's 44.4 percent 3-point accuracy would have tied for seventh in the league if he'd had enough attempts to qualify.

He insists his shooting prowess didn't come from his father, Vittorio, who played professionally in Italy with D'Antoni.

Vittorio Gallinari was known as a defensive stopper, not a scorer.

"My father was not a shooter," Gallinari said with a smile. "So everybody thinks that I got it from my mom, even though she doesn't play Basketball."

When he's told D'Antoni called him "the best shooter," Gallinari said he looks forward to justifying that praise.

"It's just a great feeling," he said. "I will have to prove that, so I'm ready to prove that."

Mark Singelais can be reached at 454-5509 or by e-mail at

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 2, 2009


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