The Denver Nuggets seem to suffer a key injury every week at this stage of the season, with the latest being a torn ACL for Danilo Gallinari. The Nuggets were already without Ty Lawson, but after losing Gallinari for the season the question is; can the still contend in the Western Conference playoffs?
Gallinari was averaging 16.2 points at the time of his injury, good for second on the Nuggets behind Lawson. The 6’10” forward from Italy had emerged as a go-to scorer for Denver at times and his scoring was essential for their success. As an example, Gallinari averaged 16.8 points on .436 from the field and .392 from three-point range in 50 Nuggets wins but was only putting up 14.8 points while shooting .373 in 21 losses.
Luckily for Denver, the wing position is an area of depth for their team. The Nuggets have Corey Brewer and Wilson Chandler capable of filling in, as both are averaging an identical 12.1 points is about 24 minutes a game. Chandler got the start in their first game without Gallinari and put up 21 points in a win over the Houston Rockets.
The Nuggets have enough depth and balanced scoring to still contend without Gallinari, but it won’t be easy. Denver is no longer the team that many believed could be a sleeper pick to make it to the Western Conference finals.
They still have enough talent to advance to the second round, but Denver’s expectations should be tempered now that they are shorthanded. Galinari’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time, but if the Nuggets can win at least one series the season won’t be a total loss.