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From Zero to Hero, Langston Galloway Is Here to Stay

Yong Kim/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

“Who the hell is this guy?”

In truth, none of us really knew.

Seated up near to nosebleeds during the New York Knicks’ Jan. 8 contest against the Houston Rockets, two friends and I listened to a pair of old guys talk about some young player who just checked in.

“Langston Galloway? Never heard of him.”

I had heard his name…but that was it. I didn’t know he averaged 17.7 points per game for the St. Joseph Hawks his senior year in 2013-14. I didn’t know he turned down European contracts after going undrafted and instead opted to join the D-League. And I certainly didn’t know what was about to happen.

As the Rockets spanked the Knicks, 120-96, in game that finished closer than it should have, Galloway shined. It was only his second time stepping on an NBA floor, and the 23-year-old made the most of the opportunity.

In the first quarter, he threw down a thunderous one-handed putback off a missed jumper from Shane Larkin. And from there on out, he owned the night.

Galloway finished with 19 points, four rebounds and three assists. Before the final buzzer sounded, the old dudes sitting behind my friends and me were crediting Phil Jackson for trading J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. They said they weren’t aware the Zen Master had a better shooting guard in his back pocket.

“I just was trying to take advantage of my opportunity,” Galloway said after the game. “Just go out there and have fun. And do what I’ve been doing for my whole career.”

It felt like a fluke. Some no-name kid goes off in a game that his team never had a chance to win. So what?

Since then, Galloway put that idea in a headlock and given it the people’s elbow.

He kept coming. He kept playing his tail off. He kept proving that he was the real deal.

After playing out two 10-day contracts, Galloway signed a minimum two-year agreement with New York, which pretty much feels like the team bought stock in Apple circa 2000.

The rookie went on to start 41 games and average 11.8 points, 4.2 boards, 3.3 assists and 1.2 steals for the ‘Bockers. The Westchester Knicks’ first ever call-up also became the first undrafted New York player to make an All-Rookie team.

Oh, and he was unbelievably clutch, too:

“You talk about a movie, or a book,” head coach Derek Fisher said. “I think to continue to persevere and believe in himself that when his opportunity comes he’ll be ready for it…I think that’s the only way this type of stuff happens.”

Going from a breakout star to a consistent NBA player is difficult. Look at Jeremy Lin, who took the Big Apple for one of the wildest rides it’s ever seen only to come back down to earth in the years since.

Plus, the Knicks were horrendous last year. Could this kid keep producing on a winning team?

Short answer: Yeah.

While Fisher has opted to start Jose Calderon and Arron Afflalo (thankfully no more Sasha Vujacic!) in the backcourt, Galloway has still held his own in 2015-16. In 26.1 minutes per game, the sophomore is scoring 10.1 points on 44.3 percent shooting, including 50 percent from downtown. He’s also contributing 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists while holding opponents to 4.1 percentage points under their norm.

Galloway ranks third in three-point field goal percentage and, even more impressively, is putting up Steph Curry numbers when it comes to net rating:

He’s no one-year wonder.

This kid is here to say and has quickly become fan favorite because of his pit bull mentality.

“If you don’t put the work in, things don’t happen for you,” Galloway told ESPN’s Ian Begley on Nov. 10. “A lot of people see that I’ve worked so hard to get to this point, but that’s not to say I’m going to stop now. I’m going to continue to prove myself and continue to prove that we can be a contender in this league.”

Follow @TJDhoops.

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