The Denver Nuggets made some bold moves this offseason when they overpaid to keep Arron Afflalo and Nene.
The move wasn’t so much to build around the two veterans, but to work them into a mix as the Nuggets hoped to continue last season’s success with a team mentality.
However, for that to work the Nuggets were banking on players like Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari to take the extra step and be the team’s so-called go-to player.
While Lawson has been as good as advertised, averaging a team-high 19 points a game to go with 3.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and an impressive 3.5 steals a game. He scored 27 points in the season-opener to lead the Nuggets past the defending national champion Dallas Mavericks and also had 25 points and eight steals in the Nuggets lost to the Portland Trailblazers.
Gallinari, however, has struggled out of the gate for the Nuggets, averaging a sub par 12.3 points a game and shooting a dismal .34 percent from the field.
Over the previous two games, which were both losses, Gallinari has really struggled to find his jumper. He has hit only 7 of 27 shots and has missed his last nine treys. He even missed a key fast break layup against the Los Angeles Lakers that would have tied the game on Saturday.
Not quite what the the Nuggets have hoped for from the 23-year-old star from Italy, especially one that George Karl and the coaching staff made an effort this offseason to visit with the hopes of getting on the same page with the young star.
All is not loss for Gallinari. Like most good shooters, he is going through a dry spell right now and the best way to work your way out of the slump is by getting to the free throw line and getting easy baskets – which he has made an effort to do. Gallinari has hit 17-18 free throws, with his lone miss happening on Saturday. He also has made it a point to get fast-break baskets, he missed the layup late but also had an easy dunk in the first half.
And to Gallinari’s credit, he has made it a point to be a force on the boards (averaging 5.3 rebounds) and he did play good defense on Kobe Bryant down the stretch Saturday but that is not what the Nuggets need from the star. Defense is supposed to be Afflalo’s calling card, but for some strange reason on Saturday Karl sat Afflalo and instead opted to go with Andre Miller and Al Harrington.
Now for the Nuggets to make a run like they did last season they need Gallinari to rebound from Saturday’s disappointing effort and find his shooting stroke. For as bad as the Nuggets played, they only lost by three points and an effort and loss like this is fine four games into the season, but if the Nuggets and Gallinari aren’t playing better later this season they will find themselves on the outside looking in come playoff time.