When Langston Galloway was earning 10-day contracts with the New York Knicks last season, many thought of it as a great story. After all, the combo guard went undrafted out of St. Joseph, and after being previously cut and re-signed by the club, Galloway was the first ever Westchester Knick to be called up to their NBA counterpart.
Although the Knicks struggled (mightily) last season, Galloway did not. Over 45 games, he averaged 12 points, four rebounds and three assists per game, while shooting 35% from beyond the arc in nearly 33 minutes per contest. For his efforts, Galloway not only earned a spot on the All-Rookie second team, but also received a two-year, partially guaranteed contract.
With first round picks Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant along with role players Robin Lopez, Aaron Afflalo, Derrick Williams and Lance Thomas in the fold, the 2015-16 version of the Knickerbockers – finally – had some promise. However, the role of Galloway was unknown.
After impressing in the Summer League, the 24-year old has been one of the first options off the bench thus far. Playing primarily as a shooting guard, Galloway has shown the ability to score in bunches while also providing defense and hustle with the second unit. And although he’s slowed down since his scorching hot start to the season, Derek Fisher’s insistence on his playing time has proved that Galloway has earned the coaches trust.
However, with starting point guard Jose Calderon dealing with an injury, Galloway has been thrusted into the role as starter – and that move could be a great decision for the Knicks.
If there is one glaring need on the Knicks roster, it’s a true starting point guard. While Calderon can hit open threes and make the necessary passes, his underwhelming defense, slow feet and lack of attacking the basket has held the team back from taking it to the next level. Sure, the incumbent starter is known as an ideal teammate – but that only takes you so far.
Rumors have been swirling about a potential trade, as Jeff Teague, Darren Collison and D.J. Augustin have all be mentioned in hypothetical transactions. However, trading means giving up pieces; and if the Knicks want an impact player along the lines of Teague, they would have to part with a considerable package in return. While it would be nice to add a strong point guard while getting into the back end of the playoffs, the Knicks must continue on their current path: stay intact and continue their rebuild for the future.
A part of that plan would be seeing if Galloway has what it takes to stick as the starter.
He is the definition of a player that doesn’t excel at one certain thing, but does everything well. Ever since he began his professional career, Galloway has proven that he can hit threes, drive to the basket, defend, pass, rebound and do the dirty work. That versatility has continued in his four starts this season, as he’s averaged 11 points, six rebounds, four assists and a plus/minus of four. On top of his versatility, it is his calm and cool demeanor that helps him thrive in the Big Apple.
With Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony the obvious top scorers, Galloway can work the ball to them and hit open threes when they are being double teamed. He can drive to the basket and and kick it out to Afflalo, or dump it to Lopez as the defenders collapse. On defense, he will, at the very least, stay in front of the opposition (something Calderon can’t do), while also fighting for every loose ball. He will go all out in every game.
Listen, Galloway isn’t Teague. He isn’t even Collison or Augustin at this point of his career. But he has energy, displays confidence, is youthful and does the little things right; and if there is one thing that Madison Square Garden loves, it’s a player who lays it all out on the line each night.
And who knows – maybe Galloway can eventually develop into exactly what this team needs.
Daniel Federico is a writer for Outside Pitch MLB and About.com. You can follow and interact him on Twitter (@DanFederico_), and you can email him at [email protected]