With Danilo Gallinari out for the season with a torn ACL, the Denver Nuggets need someone to step up. The strength of the Nuggets all season has been their depth, and now the depth will be tested. Head coach George Karl has a number of options as he looks to make up for the loss of Gallinari, and it will be a team effort.
However in terms of who should take Gallinari’s spot in the starting five, there is only one answer. Wilson Chandler should be inserted into the starting lineup, beginning with the Nuggets home game versus the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.
Chandler does a lot of the same things that Gallinari provided including; outside shooting, the ability to get to the basket and a threat from the three-point line. In all honesty, there are times when the Nuggets are more dynamic when Chandler is on the floor. The loss of Gallinari hurts everywhere but it really hurts the bench, which has been a huge asset for the Nuggets this season.
Chandler is more than capable of taking over for Gallinari as a starter, but that also means Chandler is no longer coming off of the bench. That’s where the Nuggets are going to feel the loss the most because Anthony Randolph does not provide the same things off of the bench as Chandler.
The other option is starting Corey Brewer in place of Gallinari, but that would really hurt the bench. Brewer provides instant energy off of the bench and the Nuggets don’t want to give that up. Chandler has a better demeanor for a starter whereas Brewer is better suited to come off of the bench.
The injuries to Gallinari and Ty Lawson hurt the Nuggets in a lot of ways with the most obvious being the fact that they are not playing, but it goes deeper than that. The bench, which has carried the team at times, is no longer as strong as it was because Andre Miller and Chandler are now starting.
The potential good news, if there is any, is that the bench in the playoffs tends to get shortened anyway but the Nuggets were in a position to challenge that philosophy. Now they are going to have to go into the playoffs without one of the strengths.
It can be done but it just got a lot tougher, especially with the reports on Friday that Lawson could be out 3-6 weeks. If that’s the case, then tough just became almost impossible. The loss of Gallinari can be overcome if Lawson was healthy, but the loss of Lawson is not possible to overcome.
Follow me on Twitter @Jemorrone7