Yesterday, you could hear a collective groan come from Nuggets fans as what little hope Denver had to compete in the West seemed to disappear. That’s because it was announced that Wilson Chandler would be undergoing season-ending hip surgery.

It’s understandable if fans feel this season is now a wash, because things look bad from the outside.

Lets face facts; the loss of Chandler is significant and damaging. Depth is no longer a strength and the pressure on Danilo Gallinari to carry this team now increases tenfold. There are few, if any, options to replace Chandler as a scoring weapon.

Most people believed that if Denver had any realistic hope of making the playoffs (or even pushing for a playoff spot) they were going to need Ill Wil to have a big season. With surgery sidelining the talented forward, those hopes appear all but lost.

But before you write off this team, call for Denver to play for ping-pong balls and trade off veterans for draft picks, know this: Giving up isn’t in this team’s DNA. Gallo, Jameer Nelson and Kenneth Faried aren’t feeling sorry for themselves and neither should you.

This year’s version of the Denver Nuggets isn’t about to crumble in the face of adversity or count down the weeks remaining in the season. And there’s one man you can thank for that: Michael Malone. His attitude and leadership has permeated the entire roster and that’ll help this team overcome the loss of Chandler.

Malone has said all of the right things to start his tenure as head coach of the Nuggets. He has reiterated patience to the fan base, stating a contender doesn’t happen overnight. But honestly, would you expect something different? Brian Shaw said all the right things when he first arrived in Denver and we all know how that ended.

It’s true, Malone’s positive attitude is nothing new for incoming coaches, but this time around you can actually see the effect on his players.

It started in training camp. The entire roster looked reinvigorated. Everyone from Faried to J.J. Hickson to Gary Harris was ready to get back on the court. You could tell the players knew what the outside world thought of them and you could tell they didn’t care. It’s an attitude that starts at the top with Malone. He has the Nuggets believing in themselves. That’s carried over into the regular season.

Malone has the Nuggets playing hard nightly. He demands the same effort he gives during a game. Malone is off the bench, coaching his team from tip-off to the final buzzer – a stark contrast from the Shaw era or even the George Karl era. Shaw seemed to be coaching his assistants; Karl just looked bored.

As the early-season results on the court have been a mixed bag, you don’t see heads hung or players quitting after a rough quarter. Night in and night out, Malone has the Nuggets playing full games.

When the team doesn’t show up, Malone holds them accountable in a constructive way. He hasn’t thrown star players under the bus in the media or spent entire press conferences talking about how good the other team was. Denver has a coach that focuses on his team.

The news of Chandler’s season-ending surgery is undoubtedly devastating. He has a rare combination of speed, size and athleticism that is irreplaceable. His absence also greatly decreases the Nuggets’ chances of making any noise in the West this season. But, don’t count this team out.

The 2015-16 Nuggets are a different squad from a year ago. They aren’t a team that is going to shrivel in the face of adversity. They will continue to fight all season because of the man in charge, Michael Malone.