The Denver Nuggets took a huge blow during the 2012-13 season when starting small forward Danilo Gallinari tore his left ACL against the Dallas Mavericks on April 4th. Galinari’s injury has made a lot of progress since then. On the first day of training camp for 2013-14, Gallinari said he expectes to return to playing form by the end of November.
The Italian Assassin sat on the sidelines and watched his teammates practice together for the first time today.
Gallinari hasn’t faced any unexpected setbacks this summer with his knee. In an interview with Nuggets.com, Gallinari said that he has been spending 7-8 hours in the gym every day.
“It’s not fun all the time, especially when you cannot play basketball. But that’s what it takes to get back and get back stronger than before,” Gallinari said.
First-year head coach Brian Shaw won’t let Gallinari return until he’s at full strength. Bringing back Gallinari before he’s fully healed would be a huge mistake, he’s too valuable.
The Nuggets went 52-24 with Gallinari in the starting lineup in 2012-13. He played an integral part to the team’s franchise best record. Last season, Gallinari averaged 16.2 points, the second most on the team, and 5.2 rebounds. He also knocked down a team high 135 3-pointers before the tear.
Shaw is implementing new offensive schemes (triangle offense) and changing the defense in Denver. Gallinari will need to carefully study the new strategies so that he can gel with the team upon his return.
At this time, it’s unknown who will play a majority of Gallinari’s minutes until his return. With Corey Brewer headed back to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Nuggets will likely start Wilson Chandler and then turn to third-year man Jordan Hamilton off the bench to pick up some slack.
Last season, Chandler missed the first 39 games as he recovered from hip surgery. In the final 43, he averaged 13 points and 5.1 rebounds in 16.7 minutes. He will see an increased role in 2013-14 now that he’s at full health. Coach Shaw hinted today that he plans to play Chandler at the two-guard once Gallinari returns.
During the George Karl-era, Hamilton saw 10 minutes per game. That could all change underneath Shaw. Hamilton played very well in the 2013 Summer League in Las Vegas. In his last two games Hamilton combined for 48 points on 8-17 from beyond the arc with seven rebounds and four steals.
If Shaw’s plans follow through, the Nuggets starting lineup would look like this in Nov: Ty Lawson, Chandler, Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee.
However, it’s tough to determine future lineups. Today, coach Shaw said that every position is up for grabs. With the additions of Darrell Arthur, Randy Foye, J.J. Hickson and Nate Robinson there are tons of possibles.
One thing’s for sure: Shaw doesn’t want to show his cards until regular season tips-off.
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