Denver Nuggets NBA Power Rankings: Week 14

Feb 1, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) controls the ball against Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) in the second quarter at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 1, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) controls the ball against Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) in the second quarter at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Each week Nugg Love takes a look around the web to see where the experts rank the Denver Nuggets on their versions on the NBA Power Rankings

The Denver Nuggets are putting up a crazy amount of points lately. They’ve eclipsed the 100 point mark for nine consecutive games including three of those over 110. Danilo Gallinari is on an amazing hot streak and Will Barton continues to produce in spectacular fashion off the bench.

However, it’s the emergence of Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris that has propelled the offense to a new level. Add a healthy Kenneth Faried and Emmanuel Mudiay and this is a legitimate offense that can have six different guys in double digits and score well over 100 points on any given night.

And yet, somehow the Nuggets still went 1-3 last week with a full slate of eastern conference games. My friends, that would be on the defense. In that same span, they gave up an average of 113 points on 45 percent shooting from the field. They are still struggling to get stops in pursuit of or maintaining leads throughout an entire game.

Monday, against the Hawks was the first blowout they suffered in a long while and it exposed a weakness the Nuggets have handling versatile big men.

This was evidenced again Wednesday as the fell 111-103 against the Boston Celtics. The Celtics have a slew of bigs that run the floor and stretch beyond the three point line. When this happens, the help defense in the middle completely falls apart and the skilled passers can dismantle the Nuggets defense.

Beating a Washington Wizards team playing on the tail end of a back-to-back was a solid bounce back to avoid the losing streak extending any further. While the Wizards are far from the dominate team we saw last season, Gary Harris shut down all-star John Wall, holding him to just 5-17 shooting from the field.

An overtime 109-105 loss in Indiana cost the Nuggets a chance at building some momentum, but still showed glimpses of what this team is capable of. All five starters scored in double digits and if it wasn’t for them going cold in overtime, there was a great chance they pulled out a tight win for the second time in two weeks against this Pacers team.

The reality of this point of the season is that the wins and losses are less important than how they play the games. Losses to the Pacers and Celtics could have gone the other way with a couple different bounces of the ball. To see their young guys step up and improve their all-around play, the future seems promising.

Even in the losing week, let’s see where the rest of the web stacks the Nuggets in the latest version of the NBA power rankings:

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Like I said, the Nuggets losing three games hasn’t really affected their standings significantly. They dropped one spot on ESPN and Bleacher Report, but stayed at twelfth across the board in the west.

In fact, the only team that moved up past them in the rankings was the Philadelphia 76ers. The Philadelphia 76ers. The Philadelphia 76ers. Lord have mercy. There are experts around the league that think the 76ers are better than the Nuggets.

Apparently winning three of their last seven and losing to the Warriors on a last second shot means they are the greatest team ever. I guess that’s what low expectations will get you.

As far as the Nuggets go, the talk was all about the rookie, Nikola Jokic. His performance is getting everybody excited about what his ceiling could be and hey, why not get that hype machine rolling now.

Another major talking point is the struggles the Nuggets continue to have at home. They are a mere 10-15 at the Pepsi Center and the advantage they should have is entirely erased. Marc Stein of ESPN even noted that their loss at home Monday to the Hawks, was their first home loss to Atlanta since 2006!

Matt Moore of CBS Sports noted that he’s seen a culture change around the Nuggets organization and now they just need to find “winning habits”. He feels like Denver could be the talk of a lot of trade rumors over the next couple of weeks.

Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

We will have to see if that prediction comes to fruition, but for now, we focus on the week ahead. A four game schedule gets spread out evenly. Two home games and two road games mix and match for a fairly reasonable task.

The Nuggets started off incredibly well as they dominated the Raptors from beginning to end Monday night behind the 27 points and 14 rebounds of Nikola Jokic. While he’s been playing amazingly, that game put him on the map of a lot of NBA guys.

Heading to Utah Wednesday, the Nuggets look to get their first win of the season against the Jazz. Denver has struggled mightily against the Jazz defense, so hopefully, their recent offensive surge carries over.

Friday brings them back to the Pepsi Center to take on the Chicago Bulls. This should be a tough game for the Nuggets to win with how much they struggle against teams with skilled big men and stretch four’s. Once again, regardless of a win or loss here, Mike Malone should look for his core guys to play together and continue improving.

Next: Nuggets Game-by-Game Predictions

They finish up the week heading to New York to face former Nugget, Carmelo Anthony for the first time. This should be a fun game to watch and one very winnable for Denver. If they can keep the tempo up and force New York into transition defense consistently, we could see big games from all the stars.

The Nuggets are settling into a familiar range with the power rankings, but still have a little higher ceiling to grow into. A couple wins and some improved play by Mudiay, Harris, and Jokic will be the biggest emphasis if they want to take back the reigns from…the Philadelphia 76ers.