NUGGETS

ESPN still has the Denver Nuggets as the NBA’s top team

Nov 15, 2023, 2:06 PM

The Denver Nuggets are off to the best start in the NBA, and can become the league’s first team to reach 10 wins when they take the court in New Orleans on Friday.

Denver’s hot start has kept them atop ESPN’s NBA Power Rankings for a third straight week and the fifth time since the Nuggets won the title. The defending champions are 9-2 after Tuesday’s In-Season Tournament 111-108 win against the Los Angeles Clippers. Next for the Nuggets is a tough yo-yo-ing across America’s heartland five-game road trip that ends on Black Friday.

The Nuggets aren’t just climbing up the power rankings but according to many gambling sites they’ve now got the second-best odds at winning this year’s Finals. The Milwaukee Bucks have fallen, struggling under new head coach Adrian Griffin while they work to incorporate Damian Lillard into the new system. While they’re 6-4 and No. 7 in the pole their defense is currently ranked No. 25—and nobody since the Shaq and Kobe Lakers have won a ring with a defense that bad. The Bucks have lost their hold as many oddsmakers favorites or second-best team.

Another favorite falling is the Celtics, who still have the best title odds but fell to three in the rankings. The team is playing great basketball and have a big-time battle on Wednesday with Philadelphia, whose hot start has jolted them above the Cs to No. 2 in the ranking.

Out west, Dallas is fourth and Minnesota is fifth, and perhaps the T-Wolves have been the most impressive squad on this side of the Mississippi outside of the Nuggets. The Twin Cities’ team is gelling and getting incredible play from Anthony Edwards, if the Nuggets match up with them again the postseason it’s trending toward a much tougher matchup.

While it wouldn’t be shocking for this Nuggets road trip to end their streak atop the power rankings, it seems likely that Nikola Jokic will keep rolling. He leads the NBA in rebounds at 13.9 per contest, his 30 points a night would be a career-high and he’s still tossing 8.4 assists a game. If Denver can just hang on for this trip, Jamal Murray’s hamstring injury timeline puts him as rejoining the team around when they return home.

The best 20-game start in Nuggets history was a 16-4 mark set by the 1974-75 team in ABA play, they’d win a franchise-best 65 games. In their NBA history, the best 20-game start was 15-5 by the 2009-10 unit, who won 53 games.

Some questions still remain about the Nuggets that will likely be answered in the coming months but the big ones seem to be solved. No, there wasn’t a championship hangover, and yes, Reggie Jackson still has the juice.

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ESPN still has the Denver Nuggets as the NBA’s top team