The Denver Nuggets enjoyed the best regular season in franchise history last year with 57 wins and garnering the No. 3 spot in the West. Do you think they can reclaim that spot this season? Neither do I.
Although the Nuggs have only lost one truly significant player to the Golden State Warriors in Andre Iguodala, they lost someone more significant in their head coach, George Karl. And even though Karl only made it past the first round once in his tenure in Denver, he was still a very well-respected presence in the Nuggets locker room.
Now if we take a look at the additions that the Nuggs have made this offseason, there isn’t much to look at. Little Nate Robinson will be competing with the likes of Andre Miller and newly acquired Randy Foye for the point guard spot off the bench. Former Cleveland Cavaliers power forward J.J. Hickson will most likely come off the bench behind rising star Kenneth Faried. And the return of the Nuggets leading scorer Danilo Gallinari will hopefully bring some more offense to this roster.
But as we look at the Nuggs’ schedule and the other competitors in the West, the outlook seems dismal for the former No. 3 spot. As Golden State have acquired their defensive star in Iguodala, the Houston Rockets made the addition of “Superman” aka Dwight Howard, the Oklahoma City Thunder look forward to the return of Russell Westbrook and the always dangerous Los Angeles Clippers have added world champion head coach Doc Rivers; the Nuggs are in trouble.
Mid-November will be a tough time for the Nuggets as they will face Houston away, Oklahoma City away, and the Chicago Bulls at home. This is shortly followed by a six-game road stretch which includes the likes of the Brooklyn Nets, the Cavs and Philadelphia 76ers.
The Nuggs do catch a break in that they play the Minnesota Timberwolves four times, the Phoenix Suns three times and the Toronto Raptors twice, which should be easy wins for this squad. However, back-to-back meetings with the San Antonio Spurs, two meetings with the Miami Heat and four meetings with the Warriors will make this a tough season for the Nuggets.
I expect the Nuggets to split even this season, going 41-41 overall and finishing eighth in the West behind the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston, Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Memphis Grizzlies and L.A. Clippers.
Now some Nuggets fans may be angered by my placement of their beloved team, but sometimes the truth hurts.