Everyone knows that the already Wild Western Conference has gotten even better. Something less people know is that the Denver Nuggets are one of the teams who improved. But for Nuggets fans, the biggest question heading into next season is: Has the West become too good for the Nuggets to take the next step?
The Western Conference is Very Good
Well let’s evaluate a little. The top seeded Golden State Warriors not only returned all of its’ main rotation players but also made some big time underrated additions. Nick Young, Omri Casspi, and Jordan Bell make this team just a little bit better. The number one seed seems like a lock again for them.
The preceding second and third seeds are again expected to be occupied by the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets one way or the other. But the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds are definitely up for grabs. The Los Angeles Clippers may have gotten half a roster back for Chris Paul and also signed Danilo Gallinari, but the bottom line is: The Clippers don’t have Chris Paul.
Likewise, while the Utah Jazz have tried their best to reload with the trade for Ricky Rubio, it still lost its’ top scorers in George Hill and Gordon Hayward.
Favorites to steal those seeds right now are the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves after each of their monster summer trades. This leads us to the fight for the sixth seed.
The New Orleans Pelicans remain slept on even after signing former All-Star and NBA Champion, Rajon Rondo. Retaining starting point guard, Jrue Holiday, will also help set up the best front court in the league.
Worst case scenario for the Nuggets, if they reach their potential, maybe the No. 7 seed while battling with the Portland Trail Blazers. Predicting and being satisfied with the No. 7 seed, however, would be selling them short of their potential. We could try and count the Memphis Grizzlies out of the race after losing Zach Randolph and Vince Carter, but we all know that’s a team that never fails to overachieve.
Down to The Heart of the Matter
It will be as challenging as it has ever been to earn a playoff spot this upcoming season in the West. It seems that every non-contender from last year has improved somehow. The Nuggets will have its’ work cut out for them. Either way, Denver seems to be in the playoff picture right now. All the young players will need come back improved like never before. If the team can find the consistency it lacked last year, Denver could find itself surprising a lot of people, possibly even competing for home court advantage.