Danilo Gallinari, traded to the Denver Nuggets in Monday's Carmelo Anthony blockbuster with the New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves, replaces the franchise's undisputed star of the past seven-plus seasons. Since coming to the Nuggets in 2003 as the No. 3 pick in the greatest draft in decades, 'Melo has been among the league's very best scorers. What he has lacked in playmaking for teammates, defense and shooting efficiency, he has made up for with buckets and buckets of points. Nuggets coach George Karl has leaned on Anthony's rare scoring brilliance to establish a high-octane offense capable of dropping 130 points on even strong defenses. While over the years players like Marcus Camby, Nene and Kenyon Martin have helped Denver excel at defense, 'Melo's offense has been the team's identity.
Gallinari is different. He's a scorer first, second and third, yes, but more of a gunner than a wizard. Where Anthony has jab steps and dribble trickery for days, Gallinari is more deadly spotting up and heaving away. 'Melo is a career 31.1 percent three-point shooter. Gallo, known as The Rooster, is at 37.7 percent through two-plus seasons. What's more, while only 12 percent of Anthony's attempts have come from behind the arc, more than half -- a solid 51 percent -- of Gallo's shots are three-pointers.
That's a huge, huge difference for an offense accustomed to giving the ball to 'Melo about 15 feet from the basket 20 or so times a game. But Karl's teams have excelled in up-tempo situations, and Gallinari, successful under Mike D'Antoni's modified Seven Seconds or Less offense in New York, should offer new opportunities for Karl to flex his brain. The ability of Raymond Felton and groomsman Ty Lawson to set up Gallo in his favorite spots will be vital, and The Rooster will certainly need to pick up his own rebounding and defense. (If Denver fans thought 'Melo rebounding poorly? He didn't. Gallinari does.)
But the opportunity for magic is there, if Karl stays in Denver and Gallinari gets comfortable quickly. The Nuggets' offense will be vastly different with 'Melo gone, but Gallo will try to build a new era filled with three-pointers and magic.
That is, of course, unless the Nuggets flip him for a different player. ESPN's Ric Bucher reports that the Nuggets will consider moving the Italian before the deadline, with the Clippers, Cavaliers and Raptors interested.