If you’re looking for words beginning with the letter F, “frightening” and “failure” come to mind. If you’re looking for three-letter words, “bad” certainly works. As for four-letter words, well, I’m sure Knicks fans have used them all.
Well, that’s how Langston Galloway sees it.
“I’m just out there having fun,” the rookie point guard said after Wednesday’s win over Oklahoma City. “Just trying to play ball and learn from these experiences.”
Galloway is a quick learner. Less than a month ago, he was in the D-League after being cut in training camp. Since then, he has signed three contracts – including one for next season – and forced his way into the starting lineup with surprisingly solid play.
In 10 games, Galloway is averaging 11.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 29.6 minutes. He is shooting 41 percent overall and 37 percent from the arc while adding 1.2 steals.
Prior to Thursday’s four-point effort in a loss at Indiana, Galloway scored in double figures in five straight games, going for 21 and three 3-pointers in a win over New Orleans that ended New York’s torturous 16-game losing streak and 18 with a trio of triples in the win over Oklahoma City.
“Langston can play,” said Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony, who has to be happy to have any kind of help. “I don’t think a lot of people know about him. But he can play basketball. Even going back to training camp, early in preseason, we knew he could play basketball.”
The best news is the Knicks went 4-1 during Galloway’s streak of double-figure games. The fact that he is an undrafted point guard who has seemingly come out of nowhere has stirred the echoes of Jeremy Lin, who three years ago emerged to give New York – and the basketball world – the phenomenon known as “Linsanity.”
Another thing Galloway appears to have in common with Lin is a belief in his abilities, regardless of whether the league’s talent evaluators felt the same way.
“He is not fearful of any moment,” Knicks coach Derek Fisher said. “When he is out there on the floor, he trusts himself. He plays with a confident toughness that has been really good for our group. And the guys enjoy having him around because of who he is as a young man, his character and how he’s built.”
Whether Galloway can maintain his current pace remains to be seen. However, given that the Knicks are hoarding cap room for the offseason and fellow point guards Shane Larkin and Pablo Prigioni are free agents, Galloway figures to get every opportunity to continue having fun and prove that he is more than a phenomenon.
“Everybody loves the underdog story,” Anthony said.
On to the rankings.
1. ANDREW WIGGINS, F, MINNESOTA: He has scored in double digits in 19 straight games dating to Dec. 21, a streak that may be in jeopardy with both Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin back in the mix. Coach Flip Saunders liked his defense on Russell Westbrook. “I thought that he could be a great two-way type of player, and I still believe that,” he said. “He showed signs of that tonight.” LAST WEEK: 1
2. ELFRID PAYTON, G, ORLANDO: In four games this week, he averaged 11.5 points and 7.8 assists in 35.0 minutes despite knee soreness. Even better was Payton’s 47 percent shooting which included no 3-points attempts, a shot he does not make. Now the bad news: The Magic have lost seven in a row, and rumors are swirling that coach Jacque Vaughn’s days are numbered. LAST WEEK: 2
3. K.J. MCDANIELS, F, PHILADELPHIA: Among rookies, he’s third in scoring, fourth in total 3-pointers, second in blocks and seventh in steals. The fact that he is not in the Slam Dunk Contest or the Rising Stars Challenge is a crime. Maybe his exclusion was the NBA’s way of telling 76ers GM Sam Hinkie that it isn’t crazy about his master plan for rebuilding. LAST WEEK: 5
4. NIKOLA MIROTIC, F, CHICAGO: He had 12 points and seven rebounds when everyone was watching in Chicago’s win at Golden State. In his other three games last week, he totaled nine points and one rebound when no one was watching. His numbers have fallen off dramatically from December to January as he may have been carrying too large a load due to Chicago’s injury issues. LAST WEEK: 3
5. LANGSTON GALLOWAY, G, NEW YORK: Before Thursday’s stinker, he averaged 14.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting 45 percent overall and 40 percent from the arc as the Knicks won twice in three games. Galloway has been so productive, he starts alongside Jose Calderon in a two-point backcourt while Tim Hardaway Jr. has been bumped to the bench. LAST WEEK: 9
6. NERLENS NOEL, F-C, PHILADELPHIA: He went for 12 points and a season-high 14 boards in his rookie-leading sixth double-double against Toronto’s big frontcourt a week ago, then barely totaled those numbers (14 points, 16 rebounds) in his next three games. His inability to develop consistency is becoming a source of frustration for Sixers fans. LAST WEEK: 4
7. MARCUS SMART, G, BOSTON: After missing a game due to a death in the family, he totaled 21 points and 11 assists as the Celtics split two road games. His confidence is growing, evidenced by his 44 percent from the arc in January. Smart continues to split minutes at both guard spots, but sooner or later, coach Brad Stevens has to pick a position for him. LAST WEEK: 8
8. JUSUF NURKIC, C, DENVER: Payback’s a bitch. He averaged 8.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in four games this week before shooting 0-of-7 and being blanked in his rematch with Grizzlies All-Star center Marc Gasol. His absence from the Rising Stars may be a position squeeze – the Internationals have more bigs than smalls – but he could end up with injured Kelly Olynyk’s spot. LAST WEEK: 7
9. JORDAN CLARKSON, G, LA LAKERS: Between Kobe Bryant’s injury and the recent benchings of Jeremy Lin and Nick Young, coach Byron Scott is running out of options in the backcourt. Clarkson has answered the call, averaging 13.8 points and 3.3 assists in four games this week, including consecutive 18-point games. The second-round pick has good sixze but needs consistency in his shot. LAST WEEK: NR
10. JERAMI GRANT, F, PHILADELPHIA: He scored in double figures in consecutive games for the first time this season, going for 16 at Memphis and 10 at New Orleans as he made the most of garbage time. But Grant remains a rotation player and averaged 8.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in four games. The Sixers have three of the top four rookies in blocks. LAST WEEK: 10
DROPOUTS: Bojan Bogdanovic, G, Brooklyn (6).
FIVE TO WATCH: Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Detroit; Aaron Gordon, F, Orlando; Zach LaVine, G, Minnesota; Damjan Rudez, F, Indiana; JaKarr Sampson, F, Philadelphia.
Chris Bernucca is the managing editor of SheridanHoops.com. His columns appear Mondays, and his Rookie Rankings on Fridays. Follow him on Twitter.