The Denver Nuggets have achieved collective awareness around the NBA. The latest example is their 8th-place ranking in the initial NBA Power Rankings from ESPN. They aren’t going to be sneaking up on anyone this year. Here’s the relevant Nuggets quote from the article:

The Nuggets became a top League Pass team when Nikola Jokic was inserted into the starting lineup in December. Following the All-Star break, Jokic averaged 17.7 points, 11.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. The only other player to put up 17-11-6 in the second half of the season was MVP Russell Westbrook.

That actually undersells what kind of achievement that would be over an entire season. The only players to EVER average 17-11-6 over a full season: Wilt Chamberlain, Kevin Garnett, and Oscar Robertson. That’s it. It’s not as catchy as a triple-double record, but Jokic could do some amazing and historic things this year – and the rest of the NBA is watching for it.

For once it’s nice to see the Nuggets getting some respect as a legit playoff team. Even in the George Karl years, the number of people who called the Nuggets a gimmick, even from the booth (hello Jon Barry) made it hard for them to get respect even with their string of playoff appearances. This version of the Nuggets is looking to start a new playoff string, and see how far they can take it.

They’ll have to do it while taking everyone’s best shot, though. The first rounds are fired on Wednesday – be sure to come check out the season opener with your fellow Stiffs at the Celtic if you can!

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