Does Danilo Gallinari’s Sprained Ankle Open Up Fantasy Basketball Doors In Denver?

by Will Overton

The oft-injured Danilo Gallinari is back on the injury report for the Denver Nuggets after an MRI reveals a badly sprained ankle. Gallinari is expected to be out for three to four weeks at least with this injury and he has been known to miss more time than expected.

This is a tough blow to fantasy owners because Gallinari was really having a nice season, averaging 19.5 PPG so far. Fantasy owners are tasked with finding a replacement for Gallinari now. We are going to look and see if there is anyone in Denver who could become waiver wire gold here, but we’ll also talk about other guys who are already owned who are affected positively.

If we are starting by looking to the waiver wire, the guy we should probably be talking about is JaKarr Sampson who the Nuggets recently signed to a multi-year deal. Sampson is 6’9, but despite the height plays a lot at shooting guard, while also running at small forward too.

Sampson wasn’t ever given a ton of run in Philadelphia where there was an excessive dearth of wing players clogging playing time for everyone. I still think there is some raw talent in Sampson however that could shine through here in Denver. Sampson is going to be a matchup nightmare for a lot of teams with his length. Sampson’s jump shot needs a whole lot of work still, but his reach gives him the ability to pull up on smaller defenders.

We’ve also seen Sampson utilize his length on the defensive end where Sampson should see better than a steal per game if he gets 20+ minutes, and he’s also going to get a block here and there with his athleticism and length. I’m not saying the ceiling is off the charts or anything, but there is long term potential here and if he gets 20 – 25 minutes per game there is a good chance he helps out deep league teams as well.

The biggest benefactors out of guys already getting minutes and already owned in a lot of leagues are Will Barton and Gary Harris, both of which might make good trade targets for fantasy owners. Gary Harris has been getting a lot of shine lately, but this should only help his case. While it won’t open more minutes as he’s already playing 35 per game, it should open up more offensive opportunities for Harris. Harris is averaging 11.3 PPG right now, and he could see that total jump up to closer to 15 per game over the next month in my opinion.

As for Barton, we saw earlier this year what the absence of Gallinari can do for his fantasy value. In the month of December, while Gallinari was shelved, Barton averaged 20.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG and 2.3 3PG. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he reciprocated those numbers this month with Gallinari out once again. Barton has no problem stepping in and being the go to guy on offense and this team doesn’t really have someone else to do that unless Harris is ready for the task.

Both Harris and Barton would make good trade targets, because even though they may only get this bump for three or four weeks, there is only a handful of weeks left after that so this is crunch time in fantasy basketball and it’s time to pull out all the stops.

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