Could Danilo Gallinari be another option for the Oklahoma City Thunder?
Paul George. Gordon Hayward. Blake Griffin. Whether you’re a fringe All-Star or an MVP candidate, you seem to be linked with the task of replacing Kevin Durant at the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Could a man from the Denver Nuggets be the answer? Step up Danilo Gallinari.
Gallo is just one of many players who could enter free agency next summer, and could he be the man the Thunder need?
In terms of point scoring, he could be the answer.
Gallinari averaged 19.5 points from 34.7 minutes of play last season, which was a career-high return as he enters the peak of his career.
What’s more, the Italian is a consistent free-throw scorer and an average rebounder across not only last season, but across his entire career in the NBA.
The 28-year-old boasts figures of around 85 percent and 4.5 respectively, despite having only played for a playoff franchise on two occasions.
Gallinari signed a fresh contract extension last year which could keep him with the Nuggets until 2018, however the deal does involve a player option next summer.
The small forward’s numbers have only progressed year-on-year with the Nuggets, and could it be time for him to step-up? Only time will tell.
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Gallinari’s status as a fringe All-Star could go some way in persuading him to switch to a Northwest Division rival. Even more so as the Nuggets haven’t reached the playoffs since 2013.
What are the risks?
The argument that Gallinari’s numbers would only increase playing with the likes of Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo is a valid one, but would Gallo be able to work in tandem with the star guards?
Gallinari has the potential to be a 22-24 ppg forward, but it’s difficult to imagine those kinds of figures whilst not being the franchise player.
What’s more, Gallinari is 28. Whilst that does put him in the peak of his basketball career, it leaves him without much room to improve.
With the 30-year-old Rudy Gay, another man linked to the Thunder, it was clearly only a short-term fix. Whereas the Italian is in fact the same age as Kevin Durant.
For someone aged 28 or around so, OKC should really target someone with All-Star credentials or a stacked CV. A Griffin. A George.
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But the elephant in the room is Gallinari’s persistent injuries.
The 2008 EuroLeague Rising Star missed the last 22 games of last year’s regular season due an ankle injury, but it isn’t the first time he’s missed chunks of a campaign.
In fact, the small forward missed the entire 2013/14 season with injuries, and is yet to play in more than 71 regular-season games in a single year.
It seems like great risk for Sam Presti and co. should they pursue the Italian next summer, but with Gay the wrong side of 30, it certainly wouldn’t be the worst small forward that the Oklahoma City Thunder could end up with.