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Danilo Gallinari and the Nuggets small ball/big ball issue

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Grantland's Zach Lowe points out an interesting issue regarding the Nuggets use of small ball and big ball lineups, especially the lineups that feature Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, and Kenneth Faried.

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Grantland's Zach Lowe, one of the best NBA writers in the business, used his weekly Tuesday column to examine Danilo Gallinari and the Denver Nuggets .  In addition to breaking down Gallo's offensive tendencies (both good and bad), Lowe also pointed out one of the pressing issues for the Denver Nuggets; the conundrum of whether they should play more frequently with big lineups or small ones.

Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, and Gallo are the three best players on the roster yet it is difficult to play all three of them at the same time since it forces Denver to either go very small, with Faried at center, or very big, with Chandler at shooting guard.  Zach writes:

Faried is the only traditional big man in that photo, and you can see how open the floor was when Denver played that small style — with Gallinari as the nominal power forward. It was also a way for Denver to get its three highest-paid players — Faried, Gallinari, and Chandler — on the floor at the same time, an awkward contortion act that involves either playing Faried at center or Chandler at shooting guard in super-big lineups.

Denver will have trouble finding time for small ball if all of its bigs are healthy. All five of Nurkic, Nikola Jokic, King Joffrey Lauvergne, J.J. Hickson (merely typing his name makes me throw up in my mouth a little), and Darrell Arthur will compete for minutes around Faried. Maybe playing big is healthy for Denver in the long run, anyway. Smaller groups with Faried and Gallinari manning the two "big" spots will struggle on defense and on the glass. Opponents feasted when posting up Gallinari last season, per Synergy Sports, and Gallinari inflames the problem by gambling for reach-around steals that just aren’t going to happen:

Melvin Hunt did a really good job of letting the team play very up-tempo whenever Faried or JJ Hickson were playing center and that helped mitigate some of the damage on defense from not having a rim protector.  But as Lowe points out, we have a lot of bigs on the roster and even if small ball works, it will be hard to play too many minutes with so many bigs stashed on the bench.  It will be interesting to see what Malone's approach is in regards to small ball.

The article is really great and touches on a lot of other issues regarding the Nuggets.