April 4th, 2013 was the date to be exact. Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari was cutting through the lane with Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki guarding him. Gallo proceeded towards the basket and would take a hop-step through the lane as another defender closed in on him. Then the injury happened — Gallo’s left knee gave out on the hop-step, shelving him for the playoffs and the entire 2013-14′ season with a torn ACL.
Gallo underwent two operations on his left knee and if you remember correctly, he was initially supposed to be ready to go in late-November of last season. That date was pushed back to mid-January but then news broke that he would undergo reconstructed ACL surgery in January (2nd operation), forcing him to miss the remainder of the season. That was a huge blow to a Nuggets squad that was in desperate need of a player who could create his own shot and one for his teammates. Not to mention Denver dealt with an abundant of injuries during the 2013-14′ season — which was hard on the team to play consistent basketball, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
The question looms over the Nuggets whether Danilo Gallinari can regain pre-ACL form on the court. That is still unknown. Danilo was a key part of Denver’s 57-win team during the 2012-13′ season, finishing 2nd on the team in scoring with 16.2 points per game and 4th in rebounding with 5.3 boards. His scoring and playmaking ability was missed in the first-round of the playoffs where the Golden State Warriors upset the 3rd-seeded Nuggets in six-games.
One thing he will have to get over is the mental part of the ACL healing process. By watching video of him shooting around and few clips of him dunking, he looks comfortable jumping with his left knee, which is good to see. Another thing that will take a while for him to gel with is the new system in which Brian Shaw brought to the Nuggets. We saw the team scuffle throughout the season with it and they finally started getting familiar with it and gelling later on in the season.
The Nuggets and Danilo have set training camp as a realistic possibility for the forward to start competing on the court. Even if he isn’t a full-go for training camp, it’s important for Gallo to start getting comfortable with playing again.
In order for the Denver Nuggets to make some noise in the Western Conference and make it past the second round, Danilo Gallinari will have to be healthy and comfortable with Brian Shaw’s system. It took power forward Kenneth Faried quite some time getting used to it as we saw his numbers sky-rocket in the month of March and April.
Gallo also noted he is not feeling any pressure and has the fire inside to get back onto the court and perform. Hearing that from him is positive and the Nuggets and their fans can’t wait to have the Italian back on the court.