Expectations. They’re a dangerous thing. Even when you meet them, you rarely feel satisfied because you’ve already created new ones as you’ve gone along. A team that didn’t expect to make the playoffs doesn’t feel satisfied when they lose in the first round; they expected to win.

So what should we expect from the Denver Nuggets?

If you listen to the national media, they’re a team stuck in the abyss, an area between a full-scale rebuild and borderline contention. They’re the team that’s never actually good enough to compete in the playoffs, yet never bad enough to garner a top pick.

And they’re not necessarily wrong. Right now, they are in that middle ground; the question, though, is whether you believe the Nuggets are truly stuck.

As Zach Lowe wrote, the Nuggets had an opportunity to annihilate their roster and initiate a complete rebuild. They could have traded away Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried and any other veteran with half a pulse before last season’s trade deadline, compiling the type of asset chest that would have made Daryl Morey jealous, but they didn’t. They got greedy — or smart — and went into the offseason with their core intact.

Obviously, as we’re all well aware, the Lawson situation quickly reached the point of no return, and the Nuggets traded him away for a few basketballs and some pocket lint. That was a bad call; I won’t deny that. Tim Connelly should have pulled the trigger on a Lawson trade a long time before that, when Lawson’s value wasn’t resting six feet under the earth.

What it all comes down to, though, is whether the Nuggets made the right decision in keeping veterans like Gallo, Chandler and Faried. Is Denver just holding onto the past, trying to be just good enough so that fans keep buying tickets, or are these guys really part of the future? Are the Nuggets building towards something?

For me, it’s clear. And if you’ve read anything I’ve written this offseason, you’ll know that I’m 100 percent bought in to the Nuggets philosophy, and here’s the reason why: We’ve seen it before.

We’ve already seen the Nuggets rebuild on the fly, never miss a beat and compete in the Western Conference. We’ve seen the Nuggets trade Carmelo Anthony, resemble their team in a matter of months and continue on to have the best season in franchise history.

What’s so different?

The core of that team — Chandler, Gallo and Faried — are still here. Losing Lawson and Andre Iguodala obviously hurt, but are they worth 30 wins? Because that’s what Vegas is saying. With their 26.5 over/under, they’re saying that this roster is 30 wins worse than the team that won 57 games three years ago.

I don’t see it.

And this is where expectations come in. When I say I believe in this team, I mean that I believe in them long term. They’re not winning 57 games this season — they may not even win 37 — but I can assure you that they’re not winning less than 27.

With guys like Emmanuel Mudiay, Jusuf Nurkic, Nikola Jokic, Joffrey Lauvergne and Gary Harris all in just their second or third years, it’s easy to see that this roster is only going to continue to grow going forward. But what everybody continues to forget is that the rest of the roster, the “veterans,” are doing the same.

Faried (25), Gallo (27) and Chandler (28) are young, too. More importantly, we’ve yet to see the best of what they have to offer.

Right now, Faried is much more animal than man; he succeeds off of natural ability alone. If Michael Malone can transform him from an athletic freak with more energy than the sun to an intelligent basketball player, Faried could be on his way towards a real breakout season. And between Gallo and Chandler, those two guys have suffered through so many injuries and setbacks that they’ve never really had the opportunity to show us what they’re capable of for an entire season.

Now, I won’t deny that there are a lot of “ifs,” but the Nuggets don’t need all those “ifs” to come to fruition if they want to be a good team.

So when I bring up expectations, here’s what you should have in mind: 39 to 41 wins, hope and a whole lot of fun. If we get that, I’ll be content … maybe.