When he first came into the league, Danilo Gallinari was touted as a superb knock down shooter. His coach even went on to say he was the best at it he’d ever seen. It set the Italian up for a long, moderately successful career holding down a one-dimensional reputation—and a limited ceiling. Expectations were tempered and most believed he could be a solid starter on a good team—stretching the floor and creating mismatches—as opposed to a top-10 pick able to eventually become an All-Star caliber player.
Now? In the wise words of the great Notorious Frank White, “Things done changed.” Gallinari has defied all calculations. He’s now a versatile playmaker capable of dribbling, driving, throwing no-look passes, grabbing rebounds, and overall, being an aggressive and dangerous offensive threat. He’s now a borderline All-Star candidate, and the go-to fourth quarter option for a strong, deep Denver Nuggets team. We didn’t expect Gallo to come this far, so quickly, but here is. Surprised? I know I am.
Keeping up on an ongoing miniseries, here’s in depth, incredibly important analysis on my fantasy basketball draft, which took place on December 17, 2011. A glorious evening it was. For more info on what’s going down here, go check out the initial entry. Due to this taking me a lot longer than expected, analysis must now include up to date production—it’s unfair, but so goes the world of fantasy basketball.
Team A: Tyson Chandler
Team B: Chris Bosh
Team C: Danilo Gallinari
Team D: Luol Deng
Team E: Jrue Holiday
Team F: DeMarcus Cousins
Team G: Andre Iguodala
Team H: James Harden
Team I: Andrea Bargnani
Team J: Kyle Lowry
Team K: Carlos Boozer
Team L: David West
Best Value: Lot of great value picks here, but judging by the dramatic improvement we’re continuing to see from Kyle Lowry, that’s where the selection goes. He’s hovering at the top of the league in assists, knocking down threes, and apart from his two point performance over the weekend (in which we witnessed 18 assists), the scoring has been better than expected. Lowry is headed for his first All-Star team.
Worst Value: Whenever the word “worst” is placed in front of the word “value” in any English born sentence, Carlos Boozer is usually the reason why.
Overall Reaction: As we go deeper and deeper into the draft, two things are valued above all else: consistency and expertise. Tyson Chandler and DeMarcus Cousins are two great examples of players who will take care of rebounding (Tyson should also give a leg up on blocked shots) and field goal percentage while letting other guys on the team fill in for their many weaknesses. We’re also seeing tons of upside with some owners intelligently betting on breakout seasons from the likes of James Harden, Jrue Holiday, and Danilo Gallinari.
I know what you’re thinking: LeBron MUST’VE been in foul trouble here. He wasn’t.
The loss of five Nuggets a couple weeks ago was met with several different reactions: Carmelo Anthony (knife in the back), Chauncey Billups (insult to injury), Renaldo Balkman (happy face), Anthony Carter (…), and Shelden Williams (multiple backflips on a trampoline). A couple weeks ago when the Denver Nuggets pulled off the type of franchise revamping trade that can cause mass revolt, people were upset. Their GM said they got “killed” in the deal, and instead of waiting, calling Anthony’s bluff, and hoping he’d sign a three-year extension for the only professional team he’s every known, Denver shipped Carmelo to New York for some really young, really interesting players. The results for both team so for have been telling. New York is 3-2, with legitimate wins over Miami and New Orleans, but a loss to Cleveland; Denver is 5-1 with their only defeat coming at the hands of a Brandon Roy miracle three-pointer. So what gives? How can the Nuggets keep rolling people over without a true “superstar”?
This quote by Nuggets coach George Karl in an interview on the The Dan Patrick Show:
“You guys must think I’m crazy but I think we’re good. I had one practice with them, and I’m going ‘whoa!’ What always kind of mystifies me about this world of basketball is there’s so many brilliant minds in basketball; there’s so many guys that believe in the zone or believe in the triangle-and-two, or believe in the slow-down offense, or believe in the fast passing game offense — there’s so many ways to build a philosophy and win. But it seems like in the NBA you can only win with super stars. And I don’t believe that. I’ve always coached kind of doing what everybody else does, I do different. When I went to Seattle, nobody trapped and nobody did anything, so we fronted the post, and we double-teamed post-ups, and we doubled 40 or 50 percent of possessions a game and that worked. I just think why can’t you build a team where you don’t have a top-five player, but maybe a top-20 player at every position. That’s kind of what I’m thinking we’re going to be. We might not have an All Star, but at every position and maybe even have a bench that has more versatility and explosiveness than anybody else. So you have six or seven weapons, you might not have a superstar weapon, but you have good weapons. And then play hard, play defense, and be the most unselfish basketball team that you can be, because team wins more often than talent in this league anyways.”
What I really like about this team is their point guard play. With no Carmelo Anthony serving as the team’s offensive focal point, Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton are able to play together and really force the issue in transition. In the very first game after becoming a permanent starter, Lawson scored 21 points to go along with five rebounds, seven assists, and six (!) steals. His only two 10 assist games of the year have come in the past two weeks, and brighter things look to be on the horizon.
National pundits are salivating over Denver. At first I figured it to be some manifestation of pity, but after watching the team’s hidden, talented bench pieces (Arron Afflalo) step up and compete alongside the young, more than serviceable newcomers (Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler) I was convinced. This trade didn’t make the Denver Nuggets a motionless fringe playoff team, it propelled them in a positive direction. And now, despite having no consistent 20 point scorer and no person on the roster who can close out tight games in the final seconds, the Nuggets are dangerous, unpredictable, and a squad able to run the table in a wide open Western Conference.