New broke today that Denver Nuggets’ small forward Danilo Gallinari will miss the entire season recovering from knee surgery. Gallinari was the Nuggets’ best player last season (with apologies to Ty Lawson) until a knee injury shut him down for the playoffs and what turned out to be this whole season. Clearly a setback back for the Mile High Crew, but what will they miss with Gallinari sidelined this season?
First, there are the stats. The Italian swing-man was second on the team with just over 16 points per game while adding five rebounds and almost three assists. With the system Brian Shaw is installing, I believe each of those numbers would have increased.
Second, and more importantly, Danilo Gallinari is a dynamic playmaker. He has the ability to drive the lane and finish spectacularly like the “shot of the century” last season. If the middle is clogged, though, Gallo has the court vision to hit the open man behind the three-point line. With the addition of Randy Foye and the emergence of Evan Fournier, Gallo might not have the most range on the team, but last season showed he might have the most consistent jump shooter on the team. And with Andre Miller exiled to the trading block, the best free throw shooting stroke belongs to The Rooster.
Third was the most underrated part of Gallo’s game, defense. He has the size to guard power forwards and the quickness to play on a lot of 2 guards, a combination rarely found in the league. The Nuggets could use all of the defensive help they can get, and with Gallinari missing the entire season, they might not get any.
Danilo Gallinari will surely be missed this season. But if that means Nuggets fans get a new, improved and 100 percent healthy Gallo, maybe it’s worth it. A Healthy Gallinari, a healthy Javale McGee and the Knicks’ draft pick… Next season should be pretty sweet.