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The Nuggets will finish 10th...

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...according to ESPN.com's offseason NBA predictions. Denver Stiffs will serve up its NBA Preview about two weeks before the season begins in late October and along the way we'll breakdown what the other basketball sites, blogs, etc are saying about our Nuggets, too.

But what's interesting about ESPN's initial forecast is that its the average prediction from 25 of their contributors (not just one writer). In other words, we're not the only ones pessimistic about the Nuggets for 2008-09.

I think most of this blog's readers would agree that simply making the playoffs in 2009 will be an accomplishment, given the current makeup of the Nuggets roster. It will, however, be quite an adjustment for us as fans considering just one year ago we were thinking about contending for a championship. Oh, how times have changed.

ESPN has the Nuggets penciled down for 39 wins, tied with Golden State, five games behind Portland and four ahead of the Clippers. We'll get into this more with the Denver Stiffs NBA Preview (as I pull a Woody Paige and go game-by-game to see how the season will pan out), but I'm not sold on Golden State at all sans Baron Davis. In fact, I believe with Davis joining the Clippers that they'll finish just above the Warriors and will be - like the Nuggets - one of the more entertaining / intriguing teams to watch this season. And I think the Nuggets will finish just ahead of both the Clippers and Warriors, but won't necessarily crack the top 8 in the West.

Other than our beloved Nuggets, if there's one team that could drop out of the Western Conference Playoffs from last season it's Dallas. Even though I very much like their new head coach Rick Carlisle, the Jason Kidd trade will come back to haunt them even more this season, although maybe not enough to miss the playoffs altogether.

But as ESPN has predicted, Portland will likely be the team to jump into the postseason in 2009. After watching Rudy Fernandez tear it up in the Beijing Olympics and Jerryd Bayless do the same in the summer league, for now I have to concur. And of course, we all remember Nuggets head coach George Karl crying (literally) about Portland's imminent improvement during his post-Lakers' sweep press conference, so we know who he's worried about.