Youthful Denver Nuggets among the top contenders in West

Nuggets season begins on Oct. 31

DENVER - George Karl just doesn't get the sudden infatuation with his young team.

The Denver Nuggets have turned into a trendy pick this season to be a top contender in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. But the fascination with his squad has the longtime coach a bit mystified.

Because really, what's changed since last season when the Nuggets were once again knocked out of the playoffs in the first round?

Sure, they added defensive stopper Andre Iguodala as part of the blockbuster deal that landed Dwight Howard with the Los Angeles Lakers. And granted, athletic big man JaVale McGee will have a full year on board. But other than that, this is largely the same core of players -- the one lacking a bona fide "star."