The first-seeded Nuggets have been the surprise of the year in the NBA. Despite having just one superstar, Nikola Jokic, they are playing an exceptional brand of basketball. As the playoffs approach, many are wondering if they are a legitimate threat to the other Western powerhouses.

Even in their current state, there is not a lot of belief in Denver right now, and opposing Western Conference teams are showing no fear at the idea of facing them come springtime.

(via The Hoop Collective podcast)

“When you talk to teams in the West, they don’t fear the Nuggets…the Nuggets are a half game back of the Warriors, so you don’t know whether they are going to be 1 [seed] or 2 [seed]…everybody wants a shot at the Nuggets.”

Why so much doubt? Other than inexperience, there is a confidence that Nikola Jokic can be neutralized come playoff time.

“But what people will say is that their best player, which is [Nikola] Jokic, is more neutralizable in a playoff setting they feel than a guy like Durant or Curry or [Donovan] Mitchell or James Harden or Paul George. They feel like in a playoff setting you can defend him.”

Nikola is averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists this season at just 24-years-old. Those numbers seem well and good on paper, but we all know things can change in critical moments.

The Joker’s lack of a true outside jumper and him being the only real star there might make things easier for opponents on the defensive end.

Of course, it will be up to Jokic and his squad to prove the doubters wrong. But until they do, the doubts will continue to roll in.

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