Danilo Gallinari was the Nuggets’ franchise player for the past four or so seasons but the emergence of Nikola Jokic during the 2016-17 campaign forced the impending free agent into the passenger’s seat. Early in the season, there seemed to be some pull between the two offensive identities of Gallinari and Jokic but once Gallinari bought into what Denver was trying to do and the style the Nuggets were trying to play on offense, he turned in one of the best seasons of his career.
Even though Gallinari saw his stats slightly drop across the board, last year was his most efficient season to date. Gallinari averaged 18.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game and shot 44.7 percent from the field, 38.9 percent from three-point distance, and 90.2 percent from the free-throw line.
Gallinari averaged 18.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game and shot 44.7 percent from the field, 38.9 percent from three-point distance, and 90.2 percent from the free-throw line.
What grade would you give Gallinari’s season?
Harrison Wind (@NBAWind): B
Joel Rush (@NuggetsDenJoel): B
Kalen Deremo (@PrincePickaxe): A
T.J. McBride (@BSN_McBride): C+
Harrison: It’s crazy to think that the 2016-17 season could have been Gallinari’s last in Denver. He’s been with the Nuggets for the past 5.5 seasons and really became the player he is and will be for the rest of his career in Denver. Last year, Gallinari enjoyed his most efficient offensive season to date and posted his best shooting numbers since his rookie season in New York when he only played in 28 games. Durability and defense are always Gallinari’s drawbacks but how he ingratiated himself into the Nuggets’ offensive system this year is his greatest achievement of this past year.
Joel: Gallo had one of his most efficient scoring seasons ever, with a career high .622 true shooting percentage, and a .902 free throw percentage, which was fourth-best in the league. So why the B? While it may seem unfair to single out any Nuggets player for bad defense since so many have that trait in common, as an ostensive team leader playing team-high minutes per game, Gallinari needs to set a higher standard, and his too-frequent lack of defensive effort slightly tarnishes an otherwise impressive season.
Kalen: My biggest gripe with Gallinari has always been his shot selection, and though he started off the season hoisting up questionable jumpers he quickly atoned and improved all year long. Aside from his rookie season where he played less than 30 games, Gallinari set career highs in field-goal percentage, 3-point percentage, and free-throw percentage. As an offensive-minded shooter entering his prime this is about all you can hope for.
T.J.: Jokic becoming the catalyst of Denver’s offense which seemed to give Gallinari some fits early on in the season. Gallinari is still one of the better isolation players in basketball and one of his trademark moves is exposing mismatches in the post. Once Jokic took over as the focal point of the offense Denver’s style changed from slowed down and isolation-heavy sets that relied on Gallinari’s ability to draw fouls and expose mismatches into an incredibly efficient scoring machine predicated by great ball movement. That led to some philosophical differences in style of play between the two of them. There were struggles early in the year but it seems that Gallinari found his niche within the Nuggets’ new offensive style which allowed the 28-year-old to shoot more efficiently than he ever has in his career, as evident by his career-high 62.2 true shooting percentage.
What aspect of Gallinari’s game did he improve on most this season?
Harrison: Shot selection. Gallinari’s 44.7 field goals percentage last year was a huge jump up from the 41.0 percent he shot the year before. Gallinari was definitely more selective and did an outstanding job this season of identifying a good shot versus a bad shot. That’s reflected in his offensively efficient stats across the board.
Joel: Adaptability. Gallinari is an iso guy at heart, but he made a concerted effort to play more within a team-oriented system when the Jokic-run offense emerged, as evidenced by the fact that from the previous season to this one, the percentage of his field goal attempts that were catch-and-shoot rose from 32.0 percent to 42.8 percent, a clear indication that he was taking more of his shots within the offensive flow, rather than forcing things single-handedly.
Kalen: Poise. Gallinari has taken and made big shots throughout his career but he seemed especially cool in the latter half of this past season, even averaging 25 points per game on 54 percent from the field and 43 percent from downtown in the last month of the year. His ability to identify good shots from bad just seemed much more advanced than in previous seasons with the Nuggets.
T.J.: Ability to play within an offense and not in spite of it. Gallinari was a frustrating player to watch at the beginning of the season because his forte offensively goes directly against the Nuggets offensive philosophy. As Gallinari learned to play within the new offensive scheme he began to feast on teams and his production began to skyrocket. If Gallinari can continue learning to play within this new offense it could be huge for Denver going forward provided Gallinari stays in Denver this offseason.
What does Gallinari need to work on this upcoming offseason?
Harrison: Gallinari, whether he’s in Denver next year, or in Houston, Los Angeles or with another NBA franchise, needs to continue to get comfortable playing second fiddle on offense. He’s still an incredibly skilled scorer, shooter, driver, and offensive player, but issues around his durability mean that wherever he winds up next season, Gallinari will have to differ, probably even more than he did last year.
Joel: Cutting. One of the ways Gallo can continue to elevate his offensive efficiency, and that of the Nuggets if he’s still with them, is to more frequently utilize cutting to the basket. Compare his 0.5 field goal attempts on cuts per game to 1.4 for Harris, and it becomes clear that the opportunity is ripe for Gallinari to take better advantage of Jokic’s ability to create easy, high percentage scoring opportunities for cutters.
Kalen: Gallinari has always been a well-rounded ballplayer so it’s tough to pinpoint one area of his game that’s particularly substandard, but it would be nice to see him take on more of a leadership role if he decides to re-sign in Denver.
T.J.: Staying healthy. Gallinari has played more than 63 games in a season just twice in his eight-year career. If Gallinari can get fully healthy and stay that way who knows how productive he could be.