While Gallinari is arguably the Nuggets most important piece to the teams future, the fact that he is out for the year may be a blessing in disguise for this years Nuggets team. Gallinari is undoubtedly a great talent, and having him out this year really hurts our playoff chances. He is a phenomenal slasher for his size, and his drive and kick ability is second to none; especially for someone who is listed at 6 foot 10. This size and his shooting ability make him one of the most versatile players in the NBA, and one of the most valuable pieces for the future of the Nuggets. However, this year is very obviously a transition year for the Nuggets and of all years to lose one of our most important players, this is the best one. While I know it’s very easy to have a negative outlook about this season, there are some positives that can come from all of this adversity, centering around the development of our other small forwards.
Wilson Chandler, Jordan Hamilton, Quincy Miller, and Anthony Randolph have all gotten extended playing time in Gallinari’s absence. Of these four players, Chandler has probably played the best, however that can be attributed to the fact that he gets by far the most playing time. Hamilton has looked pretty shaky, and coach Shaw has responded by cutting his playing time. That being said, he is a great shooter, a good passer, and can handle the ball better than anyone else at this position. Randolph and Miller both looked fairly good against the Suns, but they have not been consistent enough in their limited minutes to be worthy of more playing time. Randolph continues to showcase that he has tremendous physical skills, yet often tries too hard to be a play maker, resulting in turnovers and tough, forced shots. Miller has impressed me thus far, and has been far more efficient than I thought he could be. However, he is still young and still makes mistakes frequently, but I believe he is deserving of more playing time than he is getting. All three of these players have shown that they have a lot of potential, but we still have a logjam at the position, especially when Gallo returns.
With Gallinari out, the Nuggets front office has the rest of the year to figure out what to do with the excess of players at this position. Chandler definitely has the most trade value, but this doesn’t mean the Nuggets should look to move him, unless a deal comes along involving him and some other players which could offer the Nuggets an upgrade at a starting position. Hamilton might be the weakest link, which could result in him being the one that gets traded as an add-in to another deal. I believe Miller has shown sufficient potential to be considered valuable enough to keep on the Nuggets bench until a consistent role opens up for him. Randolph is probably going to be kept because he has a very cheap contract and still has a lot of room for growth. While Gallinari rehabs his knee, the Nuggets will continue to work through the rotation of wing players they have been using, but look for them to make a move before Gallinari returns in order to free up playing time.