6 Reasons to Be Confident/Worried as Nuggets Begin NBA Season

Preston DeGarmoAnalyst INovember 2, 2012

6 Reasons to Be Confident/Worried as Nuggets Begin NBA Season

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    The Denver Nuggets season got off to a rough start on Wednesday, when the team fell to the Philadelphia 76ers in Andre Iguodala’s return to his former team.

    Despite the early loss, however, this season looks to be a big one for the Nuggets, and there are plenty of reasons to be confident as the first week of NBA action kicks off.

    Granted, there are also plenty of reasons to be worried for this talented but relatively untested Denver squad. Here we take a look at what Denver fans might be feeling as the 2012-13 season kicks off. 

Reason No. 1 to Be Worried: Wilson Chandler’s Struggles

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    After a strong start to his NBA career as a member of the New York Knicks, Wilson Chandler has slowed down a bit since joining the Denver Nuggets in 2011. Chandler barely played in the NBA last season, and when he did play, he struggled to score with any consistency. Now entering his sixth NBA season, the combo forward has high expectations to live up to. 

    Unfortunately, he hasn’t shown much fire early in the season. After a mediocre preseason showing, Chandler kicked off his season with a five point, three rebound performance against the Suns. Not the kind of numbers we might expect from Denver’s sixth-man. 

    While Corey Brewer played well during the preseason and remains a solid backup option, he’s not the scorer Chandler is and struggles to create offense.

    Chandler will seriously need to pick up his play if he wants to maintain an important role in the Nuggets’ rotation. 

Reason No. 1 to Be Confident: Identity

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    For the first time since trading away Carmelo Anthony in 2011, the Denver Nuggets look to have an identity as an NBA team.

    Denver’s front office made strong moves towards establishing its young core during the offseason, starting with the acquisition of Iguodala and the re-signing of JaVale McGee, and ending with the recent extension of rising star Ty Lawson. 

    The Nuggets now have a formidable group of players primed to play together for the foreseeable future. Now a legitimate contender for the NBA title, Denver needs only to focus on establishing chemistry amongst this talented young roster.

    The Melo drama that tore this team apart is now a thing of the past, and trade rumors should be sparse in Colorado’s capitol city this season. 

Reason No. 2 to Be Worried: Injury Problems

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    The Nuggets seem primed to be a playoff team this season, but in order to be a true contender they will need to stay healthy across the board.

    Although the Nuggets are fortunate not to be one of many teams currently forced to play without an injured star player, there are a fair share of injuries to keep an eye on in Denver. Danilo Gallinari sat out the team’s season opener against Philadelphia while nursing a sprained left ankle, and his health will be critical for the team this season, especially after injuries forced him to miss 23 games in 2011-12.

    Wilson Chandler, meanwhile, still looks to be somewhat bothered by the hip injury that limited him during the preseason, which could be a factor in his recent struggles. Timofey Mozgov is another Nuggets player currently day to day with an injury. 

Reason No. 2 to Be Confident: Depth

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    Though key injuries can derail any NBA team, the Nuggets are one of the deepest squads in the league, and therefore should be able to withstand temporary injuries without much issue.

    Corey Brewer and Jordan Hamilton both stepped up to play extended minutes in Gallinari’s absence on Wednesday, and while neither player was spectacular, both gave solid minutes at the small forward spot.

    Denver also has outstanding depth at the guard and center positions, as Andre Miller is arguably the best backup point guard in the league, and JaVale McGee, Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov are all capable of starting and playing significant minutes in the middle. 

Reason No. 3 to Be Worried: Stacked Western Conference

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    Though the Nuggets look like a legit contender to begin the season, the road to the playoffs will not be an easy one. The perpetually solid Western Conference looks particularly deadly this year, and as many as a dozen teams could prove to be serious threats in the playoff race.

    Denver looks like one of the few certainties to advance to the postseason this year, but the true challenge may start when the stakes are highest. Even if the Nuggets succeed in nabbing a high playoff seed, the depth and competitiveness of the Western Conference ensures that they will be facing a tough opponent, regardless of seeding. As such, Denver will really need to pull it together come playoff time if they hope to make a serious run at the title. 

Reason No. 3 to Be Confident: Potential

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    The Nuggets landed a key veteran in Iguodala this summer, but they remain a fairly young NBA team despite the addition of the 28-year-old wing. And in the NBA, youth tends to signal upside.

    The Nuggets roster is stocked with a number of young players with no shortage of talent or potential, and a breakout season from a surprise player doesn’t seem all too unlikely. At the very least, Denver can count on noticeable improvements from Lawson, Faried and McGee, and upside for the players means upside for the team.

    It’s bound to be an exciting year in Denver.