Denver Nuggets vs NBA: ranking Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, the small forwards

Doug Pensinger

The Nuggets have two very talented small forwards on their roster - one will not be able to play to start the season and the other will need to continue where he left off last season, in the regular season.

The point guards and shooting guards have been ranked - if you missed them, point guard here and shooting guards here. Andrew Feinstein, Colin Neilson, Jeff Morton, and I are figuring out where the team's projected starters of Ty LawsonRandy FoyeWilson ChandlerDanilo Gallinari (yes, he's hurt but we're still ranking him), Kenneth Faried, and JaVale McGee rank. A bench option or two might also make our lists.

Below we are breaking down the small forward position and where Gallo and Chandler fit into the mix. Gallo appeared in 71 games last season and finished as the team's second leading scorer with 16.2 points per game on 41.8-percent shooting from the field and 37.3-percent accuracy from downtown. In 43 games for Denver, Chandler was the team's third leading scorer with 13 ppg on 46.2-percent shooting and 41.3-percent from deep. Both players showed their worth on the defensive end and on the glass, helping to give Denver two very diverse options that also play very well together on the court.

The small forward spot is where the NBA's best player resides as well as some other very talented players. You will see numbers in parenthesis to the right of a few players, that is where we had them ranked last season - some may have risen and some may have fallen.

Keys: (--) = stayed the same in rankings from last season.

NBA Small Forwards
Andy Colin Jeff Nate
1 LeBron James (--) LeBron James (--) LeBron James (--) LeBron James (--)
2 Kevin Durant (--) Kevin Durant (--) Kevin Durant (--) Kevin Durant (--)
3 Carmelo Anthony (--) Carmelo Anthony (6) Carmelo Anthony (--) Carmelo Anthony (4)
4 Paul George (15) Paul Pierce (--) Paul George (15) Paul George (NR)
5 Paul Pierce (4) Josh Smith (7) Josh Smith (7) Andre Iguodala (SG)
6 Josh Smith (6) Thaddeus Young (NR) Andre Iguodala (SG) Paul Pierce (3)
7 Luol Deng (NR) Rudy Gay (5) Kawhi Leonard (NR) Josh Smith (PF)
8 Andre Iguodala (SG) Paul George (15) Danilo Gallinari (--) Danilo Gallinari (6)
9 Danilo Gallinari (8) Andre Iguodala (SG) Paul Pierce (5) Kawhi Leonard (NR)
10 Rudy Gay (5) Danilo Gallinari (8) Wilson Chandler (12) Wilson Chandler (11)
11 Nicolas Batum (10) Wilson Chandler (13) Tayshaun Prince (NR) Rudy Gay (7)
12 Kawhi Leonard (NR) Nicolas Batum (10) Chandler Parsons (NR) Luol Deng (5)
13 Chandler Parsons (NR) Luol Deng (NR) Rudy Gay (4) Nicolas Batum (9)
14 Wilson Chandler (13) Kawhi Leonard (NR) Andrei Kirilenko (NR) Chandler Parsons (NR)
15 Andrei Kirilenko (NR) Chandler Parsons (NR) Luol Deng (NR) Thaddeus Young (NR)

Andy's Take: Like last season, both Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler crack the top-15 among top NBA small forwards. One has to wonder how the Nuggets would have fared against the Warriors in the 2013 NBA Playoffs had Gallo played and he will be sorely missed to open the 2013-14 campaign as Gallo recovers from that nasty knee injury sustained late last season.

Colin's Take: LeBron's on his way to his seven championships and is unquestionably the best player in the league.  The gap between Kevin Durant and 'Melo is much wider, however - Durant already has one of the purest strikes with the rangy athleticism that allows him to slither into the paint for a dunk. Carmelo's doughy frame makes him a poor defender, but one of the best in the post and facing up. Assuming Gallinari returns to his pre-ACL tear form, I don't see him much outside the top 10 - he's got a great stroke, is a solid defender and has an incredible passing eye.

Jeff's Take: Slim pickings at the small forward spot after the first four. Pierce is old. Deng has staph infections. Michael Beasley doesn't have a team. Gallo, despite the injury did progress a bit last season, and I moved up Chandler pretty dramatically in my personal list. That may be by default in this kinda pathetic list.

Nate's Take: With Gallo, Chandler, and Andre Iguodala, the Nuggets had the best trio of forwards in the league and were one of the best teams. It's a shame that the three won't get to play on the same team again, but it's even more bittersweet that Gallo won't be with the team to start the season. Both Gallo and Chandler take hits on my list due to Iguodala and Josh Smith moving to this list from SG and PF, respectively.

The track record for ACL recovery is a good one, but I'm not sure how Gallo's will react since it was not rebuilt - it was naturally repaired from a partial tear. His on-court skills showed that he was near an elite level last season. Chandler had a fantastic regular season after recovering from hip surgery and shot a career best from downtown, but in just 43 games. Wilson took a dip in the playoffs (to 12 ppg and just 31-percent shooting from deep) and part of that could be attributed to former coach George Karl inexplicably playing him at center for a few games. With a healthy off-season for Chandler he should be looking for a big season - Gallo will hopefully return to form, but we're not sure how long it will take.

Verdict: Jeff and Nate have Gallo ranked the highest at 8th, Andy at 9th, and Colin at 10th. Chandler ranks behind Gallo on all the lists, but not far off as Jeff and Nate have him highest at 10th, Colin at 11th, and Andy at 14th. Paul George vaulted up all the lists and took over 4th on Andy, Jeff, and Nate's lists after being 15th for Andy and Jeff and not ranked by Nate - and moving up from 15th to 8th for Colin. No surprises as to who the top three are as Melo moves up on Colin and Nate's lists. LeBron shows that playing well on both sides of the ball earns him the top spot on everyone's list over a very talented Durant.

Nate_Timmons on Twitter
ntimmons73@yahoo.com

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