Charles Barkley, the rambunctious TNT analyst picked the Nuggets to finish third in the West.
Barkley is just one voice but it’s a voice that’s traditionally dismissive of the Nuggets. Not since Nuggets mascot Rocky was trolling Barkley at McNichols Sports Arena has Sir Charles paid this much attention to the Nuggets.
"“I don’t think they’re better than Oklahoma City, I don’t think they’re better than the Denver Nuggets. ~ Charles Barkley"
That was Barkley’s response to a question about where the Los Angeles Lakers should be ranked in the West, on Dan Patrick’s radio show.
There are few outlets left that pick Denver to finish out of the playoffs this season, most seem to live-or-die by their opinion of Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic. Jokic doesn’t evoke much middle-ground in the press. He’s either an overrated sideshow or he’s already surpassed Wilt Chamberlain, depending on who you’re asking and the Nuggets fortunes are tied directly to which side of the Jokic debate people fall on.
For his part, Barkley has always had high praise for Jokic and continues to see the Serb as the centerpiece of the Nuggets surge.
While the increased national attention is nice for a Nuggets team that’s never really generated legitimate national buzz, it’s worth considering that this team has already accelerated past the need for recognition from TV personalities.
This team will challenge in the West with or without the approval of a media that can’t see the beauty of Denver’s will and talent because they don’t want to legitimize the Nuggets stars. Not willing to wait, one of the Nuggets young stars is ready to take on a bigger role: