2023-24 NBA Power Rankings: Nuggets reclaim the throne from Celtics

To be the king, you have to beat the king. Which is why there is a new but familiar No. 1 team in the FOX Sports’ NBA Power Rankings. The old king.

The defending champion Denver Nuggets, seemingly content to spend the better part of the season showing their championship mettle only now and then, are now letting everyone know any team looking to take this year’s crown will have to go through them to get it. The Nuggets reclaimed their perch on the strength of an 8-1 record since the All-Star break that includes a convincing win over the team that has occupied that spot for the last few weeks and the better of the season, the Boston Celtics. The now No. 2 Celtics.

Denver’s one loss since the break was to the Phoenix Suns in overtime, legitimizing the latter as a potential threat come playoff time. But for now, no team has been, overall, as dominant or successful as the Nuggets in recent weeks.

Also putting the league on notice last week that they are rounding into the postseason form that got them to the Western Conference finals last year were the Los Angeles Lakers, who took down three top-five ranked teams in the Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks. That flex turbo-boosted the Lakers into the top seven this week, the highest they’ve been all season. The next biggest jump was by the New Orleans Pelicans, who swept a three-game road swing convincingly, albeit against talent you’d expect them to beat.

Other than that, there was minimal movement, largely because every team in the league had an up-and-down week; even the Lakers’ showing was muted by a double-digit loss to the Sacramento Kings. Despite the loss to the Lakers, the Thunder held onto the third spot by going 3-1. Other top-ranked teams sustained even more surprising losses without damage to their ranking.

The fourth-ranked Milwaukee Bucks beat the fifth-ranked LA Clippers twice — once with Giannis Antetokounmpo resting a sore Achilles tendon — but in between, lost to the Lakers and Golden State Warriors. The Clippers, when they weren’t losing to Milwaukee, were beating Chicago and Houston. The No. 6 Minnesota Timberwolves lost to both the Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers (in OT) but managed to put away the Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers.

NBA Power Rankings

  1. Denver Nuggets: +1
  2. Boston Celtics: -1
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder:=
  4. Milwaukee Bucks:=
  5. LA Clippers:=
  6. Minnesota Timberwolves:=
  7. Los Angeles Lakers: +7
  8. Orlando Magic: -1
  9. Miami Heat: -1
  10. Dallas Mavericks: -1
  11. Phoenix Suns: +4
  12. New Orleans Pelicans: +5
  13. Indiana Pacers: +3
  14. New York Knicks: -4
  15. Cleveland Cavaliers: -4
  16. Sacramento Kings: -4
  17. Golden State Warriors: -4
  18. Philadelphia 76ers:=
  19. Chicago Bulls:=
  20. Atlanta Hawks:=
  21. Houston Rockets:=
  22. Utah Jazz:=
  23. San Antonio Spurs: +2
  24. Brooklyn Nets: -1
  25. Portland Trail Blazers: -1
  26. Toronto Raptors: -2
  27. Charlotte Hornets:=
  28. Memphis Grizzlies:=
  29. Washington Wizards: +1
  30. Detroit Pistons: -1

Ric Bucher is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He previously wrote for Bleacher Report, ESPN The Magazine and The Washington Post and has written two books, “Rebound,” on NBA forward Brian Grant’s battle with young onset Parkinson’s, and “Yao: A Life In Two Worlds.” He also has a daily podcast, “On The Ball with Ric Bucher.” Follow him on Twitter @RicBucher.

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