Interview: Kasım Ersoy, TrendBasket
The Sacramento Kings, who have lost eight out of nine contests, hosted the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night. The Colorado outfit got away with a 105-92 win from Golden 1 Center. Prior to the game, Nuggets’ star forward Danilo Gallinari spoke to TrendBasket for an exclusive interview.
After 65 games, you managed to hold on to the eighth seed of the Western Conference. You, as a team, have also defied expectations. What do you think about your success so far?
I think we have a lot of talented players that can play. Now, our chemistry is better than the beginning. We know we are capable of being a play-off team, so we want to hold on to that eighth spot.
You’re one of the most efficient offensive teams in the league. However, it’s hard to say that on the defensive end. What is the main reason of this contrast between the two ends?
I think we have played good defense in some stretches during games. We have to be more consistent and play good defense for 48 minutes, instead of doing it for just 25, 30 minutes.
In the US, but especially in Europe, Nikola Jokić became a great sensation this season. As someone who sees him every day in practices, did you expect this progression this season?
I didn’t expect the progression (he’s made). I think he surprised a lot of people. I’m very happy for him. He’s doing very well for us.
Gallinari, who have played in 54 games so far this season (as of 14 March), averaged 17.7 points per contest and is the scoring leader of the Nuggets.
Do you follow EuroLeague? Which current EuroLeague players will be successful in the NBA, in your opinion?
I think in Europe, there are a lot of good players who can play here. I can give you a long list of players, e.g. Luka Dončić, who plays for Real Madrid and I think, is a really good young player.
Although Italian Men’s National Basketball Team couldn’t qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio under Ettore Messina, he will be coaching the national team in EuroBasket 2017. What is the most important thing Messina brought to the national team?
He brought our defense last summer, even though we didn’t work with him so much because of the crazy schedule. Our defense has gotten a lot better and we have a very good defense right now.
Are you planning to be in EuroBasket 2017?
Awesome. This will be my last question. You have played in Denver for many years and for the next year, you will have a player option in your contract. Are you willing to opt in or opt out?
I want to stay in Denver. Hopefully, we will be able to work out some things in the summer, contract-wise. But I want to opt in.