Currently standing at 52-26 Denver can go in and try to match a franchise best of 54 Wins and go even further and finish either with 55 or 56 wins. Now, if i told you about this last year, you would have been saying "yeah right, these guys struggled to get into the playoffs fighting with Golden State for 8th." Fortunately, that's not the case this year.
The west probably more competitive than last year has proved to be a unpredictable as far as standings go. The seconnd and eighth seed are only separated by 5 and a half games, and after all that, the Nuggets are second. This is after being a team that has not made it out of the first round since they upset the first seeded Sonics coached by George Karl.
Looking at this year to last year, the things have changed is that there is no more AI nor a Camby on the team and the new accusations of Dhantay Jones and Chris Anderson has really helped out on the defensive end. The Nuggets have been shopping all summer for AI but nobody had anything to offer, until Billups came into town and lead this Nugget team all the way to second place.
Billups is a pivotal part of the Nuggets success this year. A leader who can distribute the ball and make passes that seem impossible to make. Billups court sense is amazing and how he steps up and hits those big shots which live up to his moniker of Mr. Big Shot. He has brought leadership and a defensive mind to this team, something Iverson did not. Billups is a winner, and a winner using defence.
Chris Andersen has proved to be a great part of the success the Nuggets have been this year. Replacing Camby, at 6'10", Andersen currently is second in BPG at 2.39 with only playing 20.3 minutes off the bench. He is currently leading the league in BLKP48M (Blocks per 49 minutes) but .99 in foul per block.
J.R. Smith, is one hell of a guy. You had Carmelo trying to put out J.R.'s hand with a pretend fire extinguisher in a game that happened earlier last week. J.R is shooting 39.2% from downtown, and in his past five games is shooting 46.2% from three. That's worthy enough for a firefighter to put out with a hose.
With his outstanding 3 percent he is averaging 20.2 PPG in those past five games. Looks like J.R is finally maturing and wont get back in to George Karl's doghouse like two years ago. If the Nuggets are going to win a playoff series, JR is Key.
Both Nenê and Kenyon Martin are finally healthy at the same time. Nene, who has overcome testicular cancer is having a career year in points and rebounds. Nene, at 6'11" plays the center position and he said in the beginning of the year, "I'm no center, but ill do my best", and he has been doing that, over powering actual centers and is much quicker than them all.
Kenyon Martin, where to start.
The former Cincinnati Bearcats and the Number one pick of the Millennium, Kenyon Martin has been ridiculed with injuries through out his career and this year is finally seems to be healthy.
His brick like body on the defensive end will be hard to overcome as well as his ferocious dunks, little 15 footers and the occasional three pointer. His NBA career has been rough, but with two final experience's and a good point guard in Billups, he can actually become the K-mart of 2001-2002. The nuggets will need him to stop those offensive PF as well as those slashers like Ginobli (although he is out for the season)
Carmelo Anthony. The cornerstone of this franchise. The future. Although Carmelo Anthony's absence when he was injured the Nuggets fared well without him. Now that hes back and fully healthy he is key. The Melo-man in his last 10 games is shooting 48.8 percent from the field, much better then his 39.9 percent back in November. Anthony is shooting 44.5 percent combined in March and April and is 49.5 percent in his past five.
Carmelo has proved to be a beast when he has thee days of rest then a game in which he puts up 36.5 PPG 7.5 RPG 2.8 APG and a blazing 53.9 percent from the field. Anthony is pretty solid in back to back games putting up pretty good numbers in 19.8 PPG 3.7 APG 5.5 RPG and shooting 50 percent from downtown on 43 attempts in 17 games.
With all this said though, who they play in the post season is the question, and no sorry Allen Iverson isn't the answer this time around.
In order for the Nuggets to beat the Jazz, they have to overcome the large noisy supporting crowd in energy solutions arena. The Jazz when scoring 100+ before their opponent they are 36-12. When their opponent scores 100 before them they are 12-27.
They Nuggets are at the 104 PPG mark and the Jazz 103. If this series happens it will be one hell of a tight one with the Nuggets needing their offensive come from their defensive stops.
The Blazers are just like the Jazz. A very good home team. Just like the Jazz, they are not the greatest road team either, but from what i just saw, Travis Outlaw hit probably a game winner at Memphis. I would like to play the Blazers in the post season as Denver can take care of them on their home court, and with things looking at it is now, Denver will secure that advantage.
The Hornets are probably not what they were from last year, but they still can be a very deadly team. Chris Paul and David west can explode for 40+ on any given night. Paul can take over anytime he wants and is a good pressure man.
Stojakovic when healthy can be a 20 PPG guy and can shoot lights out. Team chemistry is not what it was last year to me but i do not think the Hornets will get healthy enough to win this series, unless CP3 takes it personally himself.
The Mav's have a good chance for overtaking the Jazz for the 7th seed. They are only one game back of the Jazz as of April 7. This would be my most preferred match up as the Nuggets have swept the series from them 4-0.
They have all the talent in the world with Kidd, Dirk and company and if healthy, will pose a real threat to the Nuggets. (Josh Howard has recently returned to the starting lineup and can be a problem to guard at the two spot.)
The success of the Nuggets this year will probably be the best ever in their NBA history. You have a solid bench, good role players, great defenders and then you got Mr.Big Shot and the Melo-Man. Don't be surprised to see the Nuggets in the Western Conferance Finals or the coveted NBA Finals.