The Denver Nuggets are still rather unsure about when they will be getting small forward Danilo Gallinari back to their lineup in the 2013-2014 NBA season as he recovers from a partially torn ACL that he suffered near the end of the regular season last year.
Initially the thought was that Gallinari would need full ACL reconstruction, but the surgery revealed only a partial tear, possibly meaning a shorter timetable for his return. The Nuggets were originally expecting to be without the 25-year-old until around February, but there have now been reports that he could be back on the floor by as early as December. Nothing at this point is for certain, though.
Regardless of when Gallo returns, it is certain that Denver is going to have to start the year with a shallower small forward rotation than normal with Wilson Chandler likely assuming the starting duties. With Gallinari out and Chandler starting, though, that could leave Jordan Hamilton and Quincy Miller vying for minutes at the three off of the bench.
As of right now, Hamilton seems like the more likely candidate to slip in as the backup to Chandler. However, Miller could have the chance to prove himself at training camp and the preseason and eventually work his way into some minutes.
Miller didn’t see much of the NBA in his rookie season, playing in just seven games for the Nuggets and posting averages of just 1.3 points and 0.3 rebounds in only 3.7 minutes per game. He spent 23 games in the D-League, though, playing with the Iowa Energy where he averaged a solid 11.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 24.3 minutes per game, though he shot just 39.1 percent from the floor and only 33.8 percent from three.
The biggest for challenge with Miller as he’s come into the league has been adjusting to being more of a wing player as opposed to playing more of power forward role in college. In college he had the length to succeed in the post, but lacked the strength and assertiveness to reach his potential at that position. With moving to the wing, he’s had to further develop his quickness to not be a liability defensively and has had to develop a more consistent jumper.
At the Las Vegas Summer League, Miller definitely showed off an improved jump shot. Miller shot just 38.3 percent from the floor in six games at Summer League, but actually shot an impressive 9-20 from beyond-the-arc. Granted, this was at Summer League which should always be taken with a grain of salt, but his jumper looked to have a better release point than it had in the past and he obviously had more success with it than he did in the D-League last year.
If Miller can continue to show proficiency with his jump shot, can be an effective rebounder as a wing and can show improvements in the defensive aspects of his game, he should have the chance to find some minutes in the Nuggets’ rotation early in the season. A lot of that will depend on how Hamilton performs, but Miller will have the biggest impact on his own destiny this season.
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