Danilo Gallinari was 15 the first time Nuggets executive Masai Ujiri saw him play in Europe. His most impressive basketball skill was his handle.

"He's really grown since then," Ujiri said Tuesday just off the Nuggets' practice floor, where the 6-foot-10 Gallinari was finishing his first high-altitude workout. "He's always been a very skilled ball handler. At one point, everybody thought he was going to be a point guard."

I know, I know. You've heard it before. Perhaps no town in America is more skeptical of the big Euro than Denver. There was the Skita disaster, of course, followed by the Darko near-miss a year later when only Joe Dumars and the spirit of giving prevented the Nuggets from selecting two monumental busts in a row.

Gallinari — his Knicks teammates call him Gallo — is already better than those guys, but at 22 he has a chance to be better still. If I say he has the most upside of the four players the Nuggets acquired from the Knicks in the Carmelo Anthony deal, I realize you may roll your eyes. Google "upside" and Nikoloz Tskitishvili and you get 18,400 hits.

But anyone who can play small forward at 6-10, as Gallinari did for the Knicks, has skills that create mismatches, which is what the NBA is all about. Gallinari's ability to set himself apart in this way will ultimately determine how good a trade the Nuggets made.

By choosing the Knicks' package of young but established players over the Nets' package of draft picks and a young project — or being forced to, depending on your interpretation — the Nuggets took an encouraging gamble.

The Nets deal would have represented blowing up the roster and starting over for the fourth time in 21 years. The Knicks deal doesn't. Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton and Timofey Mozgov are all serviceable NBA players.

In fact, more than serviceable if you look at their Knicks numbers. Scouts will tell you those numbers were inflated by Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced system — developed in Europe, by the way — but the Nuggets play at a similar pace. In fact, they're the two highest-scoring teams in the NBA.