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NBA Power Rankings 2012: Denver Nuggets Receive High Praise As No. 5 Team In Sports Illustrated's Preseason Edition

Are the Denver Nuggets a sleeper pick in the NBA this season? If they are, it appears that Sports Illustrated's Britt Robson is already feeling the Nuggets to be the surprise team of the season. In his preseason NBA power rankings, Robson places the Nuggets as his No. 5 team:

[George Karl] also has a nice mix of unselfish, well-paid stars and hungry role players who will scrap with opponents at both ends of the court in the high altitude. It is a situation tailor-made for his preferred coaching style. Don't sleep on Denver [...] The Nuggets have a roster -- and a coach -- that can wear you out.

Robson is definitely more upbeat about the Nuggets than other power rankings writers. Others see the Nuggets struggling to create new chemistry after losing Wilson Chandler, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith to China. However, retaining Nene and Arron Afflalo has far more impact than losing those other three since they weren't going to return anyway (Chandler, though, could have been an exception).

Predictably, the Miami Heat, the Dallas Mavericks and the Chicago Bulls take up three of the top four spots. The surprise, though, comes in at No. 2. The Oklahoma City Thunder take that spot. They could be the new powerhouse team in the NBA.

For more on the Denver Nuggets, visit Denver Stiffs. Keep up with the rest of the league by visit SB Nation NBA.