The highly underrated and eight-year veteran has upped his play significantly lately. While traditionally not the most efficient scorer, Gallinari has shot 56 percent from the field and 44 percent from three. He is averaging 26.7 points in his last three games.
He will have to keep this up for them to have any chance at the postseason. Not only will he have to keep scoring efficiently, but he will also need help from his teammates. Gallinari didn’t have that help against the Houston Rockets. Likely the help will be there as you can’t expect a nearly 58 percent field goal shooter in Nikola Jokic, to go six-for-17 again.
Whether the postseason prayers are answered, Gallinari is expected to decline his just 16-million dollar player-option for next year. This doesn’t mean he will necessarily be gone, rather that he will negotiate for more money. Very understandable considering Kent Bazemore is making more money than him.
It would be surprising if the Nuggets did not attempt to resign him. Though this team was inconsistent throughout the year, it looks like it has a chance to be one of the better Nuggets teams we’ve seen in awhile.
All their great young core of Jokic, Gary Harris, and Jamal Murray needs are the veterans to anchor them. Gallinari is definitely someone who can be that guy (when healthy) next year. Even with a bigger contract, he will have to accept taking a small step back in his role with the team.
Jokic was their diamond in the rough. He will be expected to be their franchise guy for years to come. If Gary Harris continues on his gradual progression, he could be averaging nearly 18 points per game next year. It would be hard to see Gallinari still averaging 18 per game especially when we all know Jamal Murray’s minutes and production are going to increase next season as well.
Who knows though, more attention on these players could lead to more open looks for Gallinari. Efficient looks from a proven scorer who is now the third or fourth option could mean a lethal Nuggets team. As fun as that fantasizing is, this season isn’t over yet. So let’s just hope they can finish this year out strong.