Gallinari ready to take on added responsibility for Nuggets
A cameo in an Italian music video. An endorsement deal with fashion giant Georgio Armani. GQ good looks. An NBA career on the rise.
Ah … it’s good to be Gallo.
Nuggets fans were introduced to forward Danilo Gallinari last February when he was part of the 13-player trade that sent Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the New York Knicks. After averaging 14.7 points and 5.4 rebounds in 14 games after the trade, Gallinari is preparing for his first full season in Denver.
Projected as Denver’s starting small forward, the 23-year-old will be given more responsibility and more opportunity to develop into an elite player on a young talented team looking to make some noise in the Western Conference.
“It’s a real good opportunity for me and I’m ready to use it,” Gallinari said. “I’m really happy that (coach) George Karl and (executives) Masai (Ujiri) and Josh (Kroenke) and everybody have a lot of faith in me and believe in me and trust me.”
Expectations are nothing new for The Rooster (Il Gallo). Drafted sixth overall by the Knicks in 2008, he quickly blossomed into a dangerous perimeter scorer. Gallinari averaged 15.1 points and finished second in the NBA with 186 three-pointers in 2009-10. He also has the ability to get to the rim, averaging more than six free throws a game last season.
Because he draws so much attention with his shooting and penetration, the Nuggets coaching staff would like to see Gallinari add playmaking to his repertoire.
“That’s kind of what we’ve been seeing and thinking – giving him an opportunity to make efficient decisions,” Karl said.
Gallinari dedicated the extended offseason to working on his game. He played for the Italian national team at the European Championships in Lithuania and then joined his hometown team Armani Milano while the NBA worked on a new contract agreement with the players.
In seven games with Milano, Gallinari averaged 16.4 and 4.6 rebounds in 27.9 minutes.
“I probably would not play for any other team in Europe except Milan because it was my home,” Gallinari said. “They asked me. I said, ‘OK, no problem.’
“It was a chance to spend time with my family a little bit more, stay with my friends at the places I hang out. It was nice to stay home, but NBA is NBA. My career is here, so I’m happy to be back.”
One of Gallinari’s Italian endeavors included an appearance in a music video by a group called The Big Shots. The song “Party Start - Party Stop” is quintessential European dance-pop, and the video features quick black-and-white cutaway shots to Gallinari moving to the beat.
Gallinari is friends with the three members of The Big Shots and welcomed the opportunity to do something out of the ordinary.
“We were just doing it for fun,” he said. “It was a really good video.”
Asked if he would entertain other offers in movies or video, Gallinari said: “I’m ready. Life is only once, so I’ll do whatever."
For now, he is focused on making the transition from dancing for The Big Shots to converting and setting up big shots for the Nuggets. Asked what personal goals he has for 2011-12, Gallinari said he wants to be more consistent at both ends of the floor and improve his statistics across the board.
“Last year’s numbers (15.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.7 apg) are pretty good numbers,” he said. “For sure, I can get a little more higher in points rebounds and assists. I’m going to have the ball in my hands a lot and I’ll be in the pick and roll, so I want to give a lot of assists to my teammates.”
Already young and successful, Gallinari is ready to be more unselfish and take added responsibility to help his team win.
Ah … it’s good to have Gallo.