To say that the Nuggets are under some pressure to win games and produce a winning season this year is an understatement. The good guys are one game in to the 2017-2018 season, and while the first match up against Utah didn’t pan out the way we all had hoped, there are some positive things that Nuggets fans have to look forward to.

However, the Nuggets fan base has been dwindling, and last season it seemed to hit an all new low. The Pepsi Center struggles to fill seats for Nuggets’ home games, and Colorado residents are typically much more interested in what’s happening with the Broncos and the Rockies than what the Nuggets are up to.

This team hasn’t seen a winning season since 2012-2013, and that exhilarating year was followed by some very dark times for the organization. Turnover, bad blood, and defeat has taken its toll on the Nuggets and their followers, and that’s why this year will prove pivotal for keeping fans engaged as the team works its way back up.

There are a few things fans look for from the team they support, and we see the Nuggets making definitive changes to move in that direction. Growing pains are, well, painful, but overall the fan base will see some things this season that they can get excited about.

Supporting home team players that are familiar. By keeping players around a while, the Nuggets have developed names like Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris, and Manimal into familiar names in Denver. Like when you were in high school, it’s always more fun to watch a game when you feel like know who is competing. (Of course most people don’t actually know the Nuggets players personally, but the feeling is getting there.)

Star power. Signing Paul Millsap has definitely brought its star quality benefits to the team. The Nuggets are able to borrow fans of Paul Millsap for a few seasons, and if they play their cards right they may be able to keep those fans around. While on a much smaller scale, Millsap’s presence on the Nuggets can be compared to the Broncos acquiring Peyton Manning. The Broncos made very good use of their time with Manning, and they’ve been able to grow their fan base simply by winning while he was around.

Winning games. The loss to Utah was not a good way to start the season as that loss felt far too similar to the ups and downs we all experienced last year. However, the Nuggets brought it in the preseason so I’m hopeful we will see more of that as time progresses. I’m still concerned that coach Mike Malone won’t be the guy to take the Nuggets where they need to go, but overall I believe a winning season is well within reach.

Playoffs. The Western Conference is probably about as tough as its ever been so if Denver wants to make it to the playoffs they will really need to buckle down and focus. However, I believe a playoff appearance is also well within reach for the Nuggets this year. I can’t predict a standing above 7 or 8, and I don’t think they’ll make it past the first round of the playoffs, but playoff experience is a must in order to be able to move up in the ranks.

All signs point upward, and while there are still some major things to fix along the way, the Nuggets are in a position to kick start a great fan base with what feels like a new era of basketball in Denver.

*How many 90s sitcom references can YOU make in a sentence about the Nuggets this year? Put yours in the comments!