Denver Nuggets player reviews: Danilo Gallinari

4th-year forward averaged 14.6 points and 4.7 rebounds in 43 games in 2011-12

With the 2011-12 season in the books, is taking a closer at the team’s primary rotation players and how they fared during a challenging 66-game schedule. Denver assistant coach Chad Iske was kind enough to provide candid assessments, which reflect the views of the Nuggets coaching staff as a whole.

Today’s featured player is forward Danilo Gallinari, who was slowed by injuries in 2011-12 but continued to develop as a scorer and a playmaker on the wing.

Asked to take more of a leading role in his second season with the Nuggets, Gallinari made an early bid for an All-Star berth by averaging 17 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists in his first 25 games.

Gallinari, 23, suffered a severely sprained left ankle on Feb. 6, forcing him to miss 13 games, and he was bitten by the injury bug again when he broke his left thumb on March 19. With Gallo back in the lineup, the Nuggets won eight of their final 10 games to secure the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference.

Despite the injuries, Gallinari averaged 14.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and a career-best 2.7 assists during theregular season. He also scored in double-figures in six of Denver’s seven playoff games.

Though built like a forward, the 6-foot-10 Gallinari possesses the ball-handling skills and court vision of a point guard. Healthy once again, he has spent much of the offseason honing those skills in his native Italy.

Members of the Nuggets coaching staff made two trips to Europe in the past two months to train with Gallinari, and he will enter the 2012-13 season as the incumbent starter at small forward.

Chad Iske’s 2011-12 Evaluation

“Everybody felt Gallo had a good start to the season and as a result, the team had a good start to the season. His ankle injury came at an inopportune time and he missed extended time. Right when he was getting back in the mix, he had the thumb injury. It tookaway some of the rhythm he had established.

“When he was healthy, the added threat of having him on the perimeter alleviated some of the stress and pressure that other guys feel to make every play. Gallo’s not just a scorer; he’s a playmaker for us. He’s going to draw attention from the defense. Just having him out there definitely helped our team overall.”

Summer Improvements

“We all feel that he’s a better shooter, especially from three-point range, than what his percentage has shown. Improving our three-point percentage is an overall team need, and he’s a guy we’re looking at to increase that number for himself and for us. That’ll pay dividends for both of us in the long run. The more consistently he knocks down the open three-ball, the more he’s going to be able to attack the basket and get to the rim because people are going to beforced to run him off the line.”

One Word That Best Describe Gallinari


Game to Remember

Back at Madison Square Garden for the first time since being traded to Denver on Feb. 22, 2011, Gallinarigave New York Knicks fans a glimpse of what they’re missing.

Gallinari, drafted by New York seventh overall in 2008, made 18 of 20 free throws and scored a career-high 37 points in a double-overtime victory on Jan. 21. He also grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds to help Denver complete a perfect 4-0 East Coast swing.

Stat That Bears Re-Tweeting

4.36 – Average number of free throws per game for Gallinari in his four NBA seasons. Running the floor and slashing to the basket on a regular basis, he shot 4.86 free throws per game in 2011-12. He peaked at 6.3 in 2010-11 and the Nuggets would like to see him near that number again next season.