There it is! That moment where you realize that you are hopelessly in love. Yeah, that special unrequited love with a thing we call NBA basketball. Its by-product is a thing called Weekly Optimism!
Let me set the scene for you. It's approaching time for the Denver Nuggets first preseason game with the Portland Trail Blazers at Pepsi Center. As game time neared I prepared myself by drinking some tea and finishing up some last minute work while simultaneously listening to Rufus Wainwright and the Nuggets pregame radio show. I'm wearing my evening clothes of a t-shirt and Monopoly pajama bottoms (yeah? so what?).
I couldn't concentrate on finishing my work because I was thinking about how the crowd would react to Carmelo Anthony. About how Al Harrington would mesh with the rest of the starting lineup. About how George Karl would be in his first game (albeit unofficial) back on the bench. So many questions. So little answers.
Here are some observations that may (or may not, depending on your perspective) give you hope for the coming year.
Shelden Williams looked pretty good for someone who has basically been attached to the bench for the last four seasons. A double-double by halftime. I'm not expecting Williams to be the second coming of Blair Rasmussen, but something adequate. Andrew tells me Williams has quite the wing span and I think Andrew and I are in agreement that Williams will play hard this year. If he plays equal to - or better than - Johan Petro this year then I think things are looking up.
The Al Harrington injury, a partially torn plantar fascia, may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. I'm not worried about Harrington's scoring and it's my firm belief he just needs to heal. With Harrington out the Nuggets can give others a chance to play and potentially gel with the team. When he comes back he can work himself in by getting into game shape on the fly. We have a potentially explosive offense if Harrington can gel with the rest of the team.
Renaldo Balkman impressed, as well as Arron Afflalo. Both seemed like they worked hard in the off-season and I think we may potentially see an increased role for Balkman if he practices well. Balkman showed that nose for the ball he did in 2008-09 and looked recommitted. Let's hope it continues. Afflalo, who always practices well, is looking very good and I'm liking the increased scoring capability he showed against Portland. I want to see more of that as the preseason progresses.
Melo scored 24 points in 24 minutes. I still would like to see him rebound more. Chauncey Billups will obviously play less minutes this year, and Nene needs to be more aggressive. Yes, I'm going to keep saying that until Nene actually plays to his potential. Ty Lawson looks to have a big year with increased minutes. I'm looking for a HUGE leap forward this year from our backup point guard.
All in all, I have to say I'm pumped for the new season. There's a sense of discovery about this team even though there aren't many new additions. I'm looking forward to people stepping up and helping out in the absence of Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen. That will mean when they get back our team, as Andrew said, could be good. Potentially very good.
Despite the chaos of the off season I firmly believe, now, that we have much to look forward to. Yes there's tons of questions and "what happens if" surrounding the Nuggets. To me, that's part of the beauty of being a Nuggets fan. It's a roller coaster ride that could either result in the ride of your life, or get you decapitated while standing up when the cart approaches the tunnel.
If that's not optimism...I don't know what is.