The "haterade" is out, ladies and gentlemen. Masquerading as "informed opinion" from so-called experts who never cared for the Nuggets anyway.
Make no mistake, the Nuggets will be good...if not potentially great this season.
I don't know why these things surprise me anymore? Seriously.
Picture this: you are flipping through the channels one day and you come across ESPN. They say, "NBA PREVIEW NEXT".
"Great", you think, "I wonder where they have the Denver Nuggets?"
Then, you see that predictions range from 6th to 11th in the West. You find yourself hurling a half eaten bag of Cheetos at the TV and, again, at the laptop computer screen when putting together a "Weekly Optimism" column for Denver Stiffs.
When you think things couldn't get more absurd you read the Northwest Division Preview on SI.com. Imagine one's surprise reading that the Denver Nuggets are picked to finish below the Portland Trail Blazers, the Oklahoma City Thunder AND the Utah Jazz. Yep. Apparently the gentleman who previews the division forgets that the Blazers haven't improved since last year, the Jazz lost both Carlos Boozer and Wesley Matthews, and OKC is unproven.
Nah....we won't take THAT in to account.
Finally we have the hoopsworld.com Nuggets Preview which essentially follows the pattern set above, only THEIR preview was done BEFORE the preseason started. Nice one, guys. Probably want to watch the preseason before you jump to conclusions.
What's the point of this rant? Well, let me be the first to say I predict the Nuggets will finish with the two-seed in the Western Conference and Carmelo Anthony will play with the team the entire season. Based on recent reports from the NY Post, Woody Paige, and others the Nuggets are strongly considering keeping Melo for the year. Why would they do this, you say? Well, I strongly suspect it's because they see how good this team is going to be and maybe, just maybe, they don't wanna mess with good karma.
Melo has played this preseason with more dedication to defense and rebounding than I have ever seen (or heard, since no preseason games are televised) and if he carries that into the preseason you are looking at a true MVP candidate. Arron Afflalo has worked harder than anyone on the team at improving his offensive game. His three-point stroke is impressive. Ty Lawson looks stronger and more confident than last year. His confidence in driving to the hoop is exactly what we need. Shelden Williams is the biggest surprise of all. He has shown an offensive game that most experts didn't predict he would have and a stout defense that is more than adequate. Couple that with the surprise of Gary Forbes and the early year returns of Chris Andersen and Kenyon Martin and you can see where the Nuggets are going.
More than that, however, as I previously stated this team's "us against the world" mentality is quite impressive. George Karl, while acknowledging that the Carmelo situation is a "distraction" hasn't let the players focus on it. They are dedicated to making this the best year so far. I for one believe them.
It makes me wonder if the previews mentioned above actually watched the Nuggets this preseason? Or is this a reflection of Carmelo Anthony's uncertainty? Or is this simply more disrespect from major sports media outlets who never took the Nuggets seriously anyway? I think it's a reflection of a genuine dislike of the Nuggets as constituted. Let's face it folks, the Nuggets aren't cuddly and cute like the Thunder. They aren't sexy and glamorous like the LA Lakers and the Miami Heat. This team is dirty, grimy, tattooed and ugly.
But they are OUR dirty, grimy, tattooed and ugly team. I say, let the haters hate. Let the doubters doubt. When we get the two-seed and win two out of three from the Lakers this season, maybe they will pay attention. Forget the Melo situation and embrace this team as it is! Two-seed in the West. NO EXCUSES!!