Professional sports are a funny thing. Some athletes sign their contracts and are instantaneously thrust into the limelight, are in remarkable shape, and are fully prepared for the long road ahead.
Some even take their teams to the playoffs while others lag behind, stuck in a state of mediocrity. However, not every professional athlete produces at the same rate, as their bodies are vastly changing at different speeds and they are learning, improving at different rates as well.
Many believed last year Gallinari was primed for a breakout season after starting the season at a phenomenal pace. Many, myself included, believed he would have a stellar year in 2011-12. He would come alive as Denver’s star, he didn’t have to be an NBA superstar, but rather he would be an offensive maven, orchestrating dimes while being an underrated defensive luminary.
Gallinari would become an All-Star.
Then reality sank in. The injury bug hit Denver and especially the Italian “Rooster” not once, but twice. He would miss nearly one third of the lockout-condensed season.
Before his injury, his stat line looked something like this: 7.4 PPG, 2.8 APG, 5.2 RPG and a 20.52 PER. In his last 10 games, he was averaging 19.8 PPG, while averaging 93% from the charity stripe over the last 5 games.
He would spend much of the season recovering from an ankle and finger injury and never seemed fully consistent for the rest of the season. Health has always been a factor for Gallinari, but this season his health is of the utmost importance as well. He has been training hard in Italy and despite reports, seems to be in good health.
Although, Ty Lawson is the clear cut leader of the team and they added Andre Iguodala as a second option, Gallinari is essential for Denver.
That role has always been clear, as that was his duty when he was with the New York Knicks, and with his time in Denver two things have become apparent: he’s an underrated defender and he’s a remarkable playmaker.
Also, Gallinari has a shooting arsenal under his belt. He can hit a soft jump shot, drive to the basket which — like last season — gets him to the charity stripe time and time again, he can slice the defense like swiss cheese and get an easy dunk. Although, his three-point shot was not consistent last season, he can still hit it from downtown.
If all these things come together and Gallinari stays in tip-top shape, he will have that kind of year in Denver.
This will be Gallinari’s breakout year, and if for some reason it doesn’t meet the expectations placed upon him, you can count on Masai Uriji putting him on the trade block.