Thunder Rockets Basketball

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari (8) shoots as Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday in Houston. 

OKLAHOMA CITY — As though the subject has not been beaten to death already, of all the movable players the Thunder might wish to unload in the name of yet additional future draft assets by the Feb. 6 trade deadline, Danilo Gallinari may be the easiest.

Only this season remains on his contract, paying him $22.6 million.

Many teams hoping for a late surge to reach the playoffs or looking for the missing piece to a deep run might find him very attractive now and over the next 2-3 years of what’s already become a 12-season NBA career.

Gallinari may be becoming more valuable every day, because when Oklahoma City takes on Orlando tonight inside the Amway Center, he'll be coming off the third most productive six-game stretch of his NBA career.

Between Chris Paul’s leadership guiding Oklahoma City beyond expectation, the sped-up emergence of point-guard-of-the-future Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the dynamic play off sixth-man Dennis Schroder, Gallinari can excel quietly.

Also, there’s the strange fact the Thunder have fared quite well in the seven games he's missed, going 6-1 in such circumstance.

Indeed, OKC has only gone 3-3 during Gallinari’s current stretch of high production.

Still, the Thunder would not have threatened any type of a comeback at Houston Monday afternoon without Gallinari’s 12-fourth-quarter points, spurred by a trio of 3-pointers.

What can be measured as fact is Gallinari has suddenly thrust his offensive game into a new gear.

Over his last six games, he's averaged 25.3 points, netting a low of 23 against both Houston and Toronto and a high of 30 at Minnesota.

During the stretch, Gallinari’s made 48.9 percent of his shots, 50 percent of his 3-pointers, grabbed 6.7 rebounds and dished 2.5 assists.

His season averages are 19.2 points on 43.5 percent shooting, 41.2 percent 3-point shooting and 90.4 percent 3-point shooting, 5.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists.

During two other six-game stretches over his carer, one last season and one during the 2015-16 season, he averaged 26.2 points.

NORMAN — In both, however, his other numbers weren’t quite as high: 5.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists from March 8-22 last season; 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists from January 2-13, 2016.

Orlando’s right in the middle of the NBA 3-point defense list, allowing 35.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc, 15th in the league.

Tonight, the Thunder have the opportunity to push their winning streak to three games and reach seven-games over .500 for the first time this season.

Another 25 or so points from Gallinari would surely help.


Horning is senior sports columnist for The Norman Transcript, a CNHI News Service publication.

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