Amid the Nuggets’ nondescript season was a sharp campaign from Danilo Gallinari, who got the better of defender after defender.
Amid the Nuggets’ nondescript season was a sharp campaign from Gallinari, who got the better of defender after defender. Rather than try to sneak past quicker opponents, Gallinari would get a half-step on his defender and draw a bump that would send him to a line. Opponents that closed hard on his three-point tries were sometimes met with a not-entirely-legal leg extension—the sort that would send Gallo careening to the floor and generate three free throws. Gallinari was always willing to throw himself off-balance to create contact last season and played expertly into defenders’ reaches and swipes. A player does not shoot 8.2 free throws per game (fourth-most in the NBA) by accident. It’s to Gallinari’s credit that he was able to so consistently bait defenders into his space or push them back onto their heels and out of sound defensive position. The resulting free throws served to augment Gallinari’s scoring across the board—in the post, out of isolations, in the pick-and-roll, driving off of spot-ups—in a way that reinforced his versatility. He might not be the quickest, the strongest, or even the most skilled. Gallo just has enough guile to take his advantages for all they’re worth and churn out an efficient 19.5 points in an oversized role. It’s not ideal to have Gallinari create quite so much as Denver’s current roster demands, though operating in a secondary capacity would only yield more open looks and lanes to attack. (Last year: No. 73)
+ Drew fouls out of isolation at the same rate as James Harden last season
+ Combo forward who can compete defensively at both positions
– Has a long, substantial (odd) injury history. Missed a quarter of his team’s games over the past three seasons
– Underwhelming rebounder for his height, particularly when playing power forward