The last time Danilo Gallinari played an NBA game was April of 2013. Since then he has gone a full-blown reconstructive procedure, which meant missing the entirety of last season. It seems that he’s been ready to go for quite some time, and the Denver Nuggets are hoping that nothing delays his return this season.
Gallinari fit the team’s fast-paced offensive style like a glove during George Karl’s tenure, averaging 16.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in 2012-2013, before getting injured just before the playoffs, which might have been one of the reasons why the Nuggets couldn’t get past the Golden State Warriors in the first round.
Under Brian Shaw, things might be a bit different, but if Gallinari just returns to being an offensive threat, even in a lesser extent to the kind he was before the injury, that should be pleasing for the Nuggets, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2003 last year.
Gallinari is signed for two more years worth $22 million, which means he isn’t playing for a contract next season, but it’ll be more of a setup run to try and put himself in a position to be a highly coveted free agent by the time 2016 comes around, unless he’ll be so good, just as good as he was before the injury, that the Nuggets will be hard pressed to re-sign the 26 year-old Italian forward.
Gallinari is a risk. Injuries aren’t a rare occurrence with him, missing 20 games in 2010-2011 and 23 games in the shortened NBA season coming after it. Now he’ll be another player in a post-ACL injury situation. He has never been the most efficient of scorers as well, shooting a career 41.9% from the field, including 41.8% during his last season.
The Nuggets began finding their identity last season but fell out of the playoff race quite quickly. They aren’t that different going into next season but they do have Arron Afflalo back on the team and hopefully JaVale McGee healthy again. Gallinari might not be the leading man this time, but a smooth return from his injury could make things a lot easier for all those involved.