DENVER — If the late, great comedian Rodney Dangerfield were still with us, his reaction to the Vegas odds-maker’s win/loss prediction for the Denver Nuggets would be simple and plain spoken.
“No respect, I tell ya,” he would say. “They’re getting no respect.”
Tuesday, the sharks on the strip set the Nuggets’ over/under for wins this coming season at a shamefully low 34.5. Only the Kings, 76ers, Suns, Lakers, and Nets are predicted to finish below Denver.
Here’s a free piece of advice: take the over.
The Nuggets will not only be better than a 34 or 35 win team this season, they’re set up to be a playoff contender.
Heck, they won 33 games last season in a year where just about everything that could have gone wrong for them did.
In 2015-16, they were without veterans Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari for all or much of the year, their leading scorer was 25-year-old D-league alum Will Barton, and they had injuries up and down their starting rotation. JaKarr Simpson started 18 games for this team last year…JaKarr Simpson!
The 2016-17 edition of the Nuggets is set up to be significantly better. They’ve had the chance to work in head coach Michael Malone’s for a full season. Chandler and Gallinari are finally, finally health. And, they added three rookies in the draft; guards Jamal Murray and Malik Beasley, and forward Juancho Hernangomez, all capable scorers who should contribute to this team right way.
Above all, this young core of players has had the chance to get a year older and, presumably, a year better. 20-year-old point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, 22-year-old shooting guard Gary Harris, and 21-year-old center Nikola Jokic all have the talent necessary to help this team compete in every single game. Now, they each have a full season or more of NBA experience under their belts.
To say that the Nuggets are going to be only one or two wins better than they were last season simply isn’t an accurate or well-researched opinion. However, setting their over/under at such a painfully low total speaks to the national perception of the Nuggets.
Vegas odds-makers aren’t soothsayers. These lines aren’t set based on how they think teams are going to perform in a given year. They are set based on how they think the betting public believes teams are going to perform in a given year.
Nationally, the Nuggets aren’t thought of as a playoff contender. Heck, they aren’t thought of as much of anything.
NBA media likes to talk about either awful teams or great teams. Yet, the Nuggets currently reside in no-man’s land. They’re an average team, verging on an above team in a mid-market city. Only the most attentive NBA fans notice the changes Denver made in the offseason and will be able to project them as the quality team they’re set up to be.
As such, it should be no surprise that in the hours since these odds were released, a plethora of so-called “smart money” has come in on the Nuggets to finish higher than 34.5 wins.
The Denver Nuggets are a sneaky good team stacked with young talent and fully capable of riding Gallinari, Chandler, Mudiay, Harris, and Murray, to a win total well above Las Vegas’ projection.