A lot was made this summer of the Dwight Howard trade, mostly about Dwight in LA and a little bit of Andrew Bynum in Philadelphia and a little bit about how awful the Orlando Magic are going to be (they're going to be really awful). Not a ton of has been made of the fourth team involved in the Howard trade, the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets turned Aaron Afflalo and Al Harrington in to Andre Iguodola, who might be the best perimeter defender in the league. As a result, some have wondered if the Nuggets are ready to be included in the Western Conference's elite.
The Nuggets are a great test subject for whether a deep team of good to really good players can be better then a team with less good players on it but also containing a few great players. The Nuggets were the sixth best team in the West last season. Does the addition of Iguadola and a full season of JaVale McGee vault this team past the Clippers and Memphis into the discussion with the San Antonio Spurs, Thunder and Lakers?
There aren't many bigger Andre Iguodala fans than me, but Iguadola isn't the type of player that solves the problem the Nuggets had against the Lakers last spring in the first round of the playoffs. Namely, Denver lacked a go to guy to get some buckets when it mattered most. Iguadola is going to make the Nuggets way better on defense, but it's going to take Ty Lawson or Danilio Gallinari making a jump as a go to scorer. The wing combination of an improved Gallinari and Iguadola could be a big problem for opposing teams. At barely 23, Gallinari seems to be most likely to become a go to scorer. He's turned himself in to a guy who gets to the free throw line at will. Look the hell out If he can find the shooting stroke he had when he played in New York.
It wouldn't be surprising at all to see the Nuggets win something close to 55 games this year. They're at least two deep with quality players at every position. That's a team built for regular season success but doesn't it still feel like they need a go to guy to put them in the Spurs/Thunder/Lakers catergory? If they find that then they're going to be pretty scary this season. The good news is they got rid of Rudy Fernandez, who is back in Europe, where he can stay.
Definitely not elite yet! I'll put them 7 or 8! in no particular order I'll put spurs, lakers, thunder, clippers, grizzles, mavs in front of nuggets! still feel Spurs need a descent solid center though, will see what the Spurs have up their sleeves.
They could be a top 4 team, but I don't know if I can put them in that elite category yet. As of right now, I think they'll be the 5th seed because I do think they're better than the Grizzlies. They are on par with the Clippers, but if I had to give the edge to somebody, I would choose the Clippers over the Nuggets because they got better too with their recent additions (also, they'll be getting back a healthy Billups).