The Denver Nuggets are back into the upper half of NBA powers, according to SB Nation's NBA power ranker Seth Rosenthal. On the strength of a four-game winning streak, the Nuggets have risen to No. 12 in this week's power rankings, up seven spots from No. 19 last week.
The Nuggets hammered out wins against the top-ranked Memphis Grizzlies, as well as over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, and New Orleans Hornets. Rosenthal pegs improved free-throw shooting as a key factor: "Denver's free-throw rate was improved over the last three games -- all wins -- and, to be fair, they shot well from the foul line in two of those three."
Not only have the Nuggets climbed in power rankings, but at 8-6, Denver is just two games behind the division-leading Oklahoma City Thunder, who check in at No. 3 on Rosenthal's ranking. As mentioned, Memphis tops the list, followed by the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City, and the Miami Heat.
Here is how the Northwest division stacked up in the power ranking:
3 - Oklahoma City Thunder
12 - Denver Nuggets
16 - Minnesota Timberwolves
17 - Utah Jazz
20 - Portland Trail Blazers