Nuggets make big leap in latest NBA power rankings

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers
Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

The calendar has flipped to March, the NBA playoffs are rapidly approaching, and the Denver Nuggets have shifted into another gear. The team has won six straight games, including dispatching the teams they played in the conference finals (Lakers) and finals (Heat) their last two times out.

Nikola Jokic is somehow playing even better than he was to start the year, Jamal Murray seems to have avoided major injury after his recent scare, and some of the bench guys have even been coming through and producing. Things are trending in the right direction, and the national media has taken notice.

New edition of NBA Power Rankings

The NBA’s weekly power rankings, constructed by John Schuhmann of are released each Monday, and the latest addition saw the Nuggets climb from fifth to second in the league, behind only the Boston Celtics.

The Nuggets are still undefeated, a perfect 6-0, since the all-star break, and their perfect record allowed them to leapfrog fellow Western Conference rivals, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, and Minnesota Timberwolves in this week’s rankings. Those three squads round out the top 5 in that order.

Denver is all the way up to 42-19 on the season, and they’re now just a half-game behind the Thunder for the one seed in the West. But they’ll have their work cut out for them as they face two stiff tests in their next two games.

The road ahead

First, they’ll take on the Phoenix Suns at home Tuesday. Devin Booker will miss the game, but the Suns should still have Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal in action. Then the stiffest test will come on Thursday as the Nuggets host the top team in the rankings, the 48-12 Celtics who are in the midst of an 11-game winning streak, with the last six wins coming by an average of almost 30 points a game.

The Nuggets, of course, went into Boston and eked out a close win in the final seconds earlier this season, but the Celts are playing their best ball of the season. This is a matchup to circle on the calendar and one that could easily be an NBA Finals preview. That collision course has been looking inevitable lately, and finally, the NBA power rankings reflect that.