Last year's record? 53-29, lost in the first round to the Utah Jazz.
Projected record, as predicted three months ago in time to publish in Yahoo! Sports' NBA Preview Magazine? 50-32
Why I think that sounds about right?
Because, at the heart of all this weirdness, still lies a team that can defend when it wants to, and put up huge gobs of points. Sometimes even efficiently.
Even if Carmelo Anthony badly wants an contract extension with another team and to play with another team (in that order), a 1/3 screen and roll with Anthony and Chauncey Billups(notes) is still one of the more terrifyingly potent things in this league. Nene continues to be an underrated all-around big man, and the frontcourt depth might be a little better this year.
This was a great team before George Karl had to leave it, and while I don't want to call the Nuggets coach a miracle worker, they did make the third round of the playoffs with him two years ago, and they limped out of the first round without him. He gets to these guys.
Why I think I might be terribly, terribly wrong?
Because this prediction was made before Carmelo Anthony sent out his trade demand, and while the team as currently constructed has 50-win talent, the team as currently constructed might not make it past the middle of December.
Whether this is a good or bad thing is a subject for another post, but if I had to re-do the prediction I'd knock the Nuggets down a few wins based on the good (not great) chance that Anthony will be traded either in mid-December, or before the trade deadline in February. Much as I'd like to re-do my Cavalier prediction after having assumed the team would come to its senses and not try to shoot for 10th in the East with the Ramon Sessions(notes) Show, the specter of Anthony's disengagement looms large.
The Nuggets' starting shooting guard was the league's fifth-leading scorer during the eight-game exhibition slate, averaging 20.4 points in 35.1 minutes per game. More importantly, he got his 20 pretty efficiently. Afflalo took just under 14 shots per night, converting 49.1 percent from the field. He also hit at a 40 percent clip from three-point range and made 85.4 percent of his free throws.
All told, Afflalo's shooting display translated to a preseason effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of 58.2 percent and a True Shooting Percentage (TS%) of 63.7 percent (shouts to the Advanced Statistics Calculator at Pick and Scroll). That's pretty impressive, considering the league averages for eFG% and TS% last season were 50.2 percent and 54.5 percent, respectively (shouts to Hoopdata). If he keeps it up, the UCLA product could be a pleasantly potent surprise -- at least, on those rare Nuggets possessions that don't end with Carmelo or J.R. taking a shot.
Neither one of us can believe what you have just told us, because it is absurd
I know, you guys, it sounds insane, but Jenna Von Oy was top 10 trending on Yahoo! for, like, a day. Seriously. Six from "Blossom" got married to a computer dude and people, or at least People, really wanted to know about it, I guess. What? I don't really care, I'm just saying. C'mon, George, don't look at me like that.
Shelden Williams has a theme song: A 2.5-minute reminder
The man is a starting power forward in the National Basketball Association. Let us treat him with the respect such a station deserves. All now please rise for "The Landlord." Frontcourt opponents: You better hope your check will clear, boys.