When I wrote in my season preview that Denver would be one of the best equipped team to overcome their star going down for a good amount of time, I really was really hoping they wouldn't be forced to prove it. Sure enough, Danilo Gallinari suffered a chip fracture on his ankle which will sideline him for the next month.
[caption id="attachment_201" align="alignright" width="253" caption="Danilo Gallinari will be sidelined for one month after suffering a chip fracture in his ankle. (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)"][/caption]
Denver was already without Nene, Arron Afflalo, and Timofey Mozgov against the Rockets. While those injuries aren't nearly as severe as Gallinari's, Denver is certainly struggling to keep players on the floor and out of the training room.
What this means is that someone on Denver's bench is going to have to step up in Gallo's place, and the answer to whom will start at small forward tonight might surprise you. Julyan Stone, a undrafted rookie out of UTEP, will get the nod tonight.
Stone made his first career start Monday and will likely see a lot more playing time in Gallinari's absence. Before Monday, Stone was only on the floor for a total of 42 this season. So why on earth is an undrafted rookie getting the nod over Rudy Fernandez or Corey Brewer?
The answer is twofold. First off, George Karl is adamant about keeping his bench rotation in tact which has been evident in Kosta Koufos filling in for Nene when he has been out instead of sixth man Al Harrington. Speaking of Nene, he will be giving it a go tonight after missing Monday with a heel injury.
[caption id="attachment_202" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Julyan Stone will get a significant jump in minutes while Gallinari is out. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)"][/caption]
Second, Stone can flat out defend. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard is a terrific defender and has become a favorite of Coach Karl. One of the bright sides of Monday's game was Houston's leading scorer, Kevin Martin, was held to 1 for 9 from the field. A large part of that had to do with Stone's defense.
Afflalo and Nene are expected to start tonight against the Mavericks despite their injuries. Afflalo has been in his own world this year and has yet to show any signs of building on last year's progress. In his defense, he has been dealing with a couple of different injuries, but of all five starters, he has been the most disappointing. And yes, that does rank him lower than Timofey Mozgov.
Speaking of Mozgov, the 7-foot-1 center will miss tonight's game and likely tomorrow's game against Golden State with an ankle sprain. Like Afflalo and Nene, Mozgov's injury is not serious and he should be in the starting lineup by the end of the week.
Denver has had a rough week and things won't get any easier when the defending champs come to town tonight. Denver routed the Mavericks at home earlier in the season, but that was a very different Dallas team.Back to the Denver Nuggets Newsfeed