Five Nuggets story lines to watch for this season
The 2012-13 Nuggets season has finally arrived. After pushing the Lakers to seven games in the first round of the NBA Playoffs last year and obtaining All-Star guard Andre Iguodala via trade this summer, fans are excited as they've ever been for the boys in blue and yellow -- and the Nuggets certainly have their fair share of story lines that could unfold well into spring. Here are five of the most crucial Nuggets narratives this season.
5. Prospect potential.
The Nuggets have one of the youngest core groups of players in the NBA. Wilson Chandler, Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried are all 25 or younger. Guys like Jordan Hamilton, Kosta Koufos and Anthony Randolph, who could very well see expanded roles this year, are no older than 23. Andre Iguodala, whom many perceive to be one of the team's veterans, is 28. In fact, the only player on the entire roster over thirty is Andre Miller, who's actual closer to forty.
Andre Iguodala, left, Kenneth Faried and Ty Lawson.
Although the Nuggets are a young team, most of its best players have been in the league for three to four years and are just realizing their potential. Gallinari was on pace to contend for an All-Star spot last year before succumbing to a series of injuries. Many believe Lawson could do the same this year -- minus the injuries, of course. Even though he belongs on the NBA's Mount Rushmore of Knuckleheads, you could make a case McGee has the most raw, untapped potential of anybody on the entire roster.
The fact is, this Nuggets squad is oozing with promising young talent. Whether it can collectively unleash its best qualities and squeeze out a high number of wins in the process will be one of the more telling developments of the team's overall success this season.
4. The wild, wild West.
If the Nuggets played in the NBA's Eastern Conference, they'd probably have three times the amount of success they've had over the last handful of years in the playoffs. But, that's the way the nugget crumbles, so to speak.
For the past decade, the NBA's Western Conference has been one of the toughest in all of sports. The Lakers, Mavericks and Spurs have won ten of the fourteen NBA titles since 1999, and during that span, only one other team -- last year's Oklahoma City Thunder -- has even represented the West in the NBA Finals. Of those four teams, only the Mavericks appear on pace to take a slight step backwards this year, while the Thunder and Spurs should remain static. Meanwhile, the Lakers improved vastly, landing two of the best to ever lace them up at their respective positions in Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. And did I mention how the Clippers -- who finished with a better record than the Nuggets did last season -- also made huge moves this summer?
Unfortunately for the Nuggets, the West is brutal. While Denver will be greatly improved this season, almost everybody else in the conference will be, too. As bad as it sounds, Nuggets fans should be anonymously praying for a season-ending injury to one of their Western Conference foe's most talented players if they want the Nuggets to have a real chance at making a deep playoff run come May.
Continue for more of our five Nuggets story lines to watch this season.