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NBA power rankings: Defending champions Nuggets start at No. 1, Bucks slightly edge Celtics

Here’s Chinmay Vaidya’s first power rankings as the 2023-24 season is about to tip off.

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers
Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets runs up court during the first half of a preseason game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Arena on October 19, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The 2023-24 NBA season gets going with a TNT doubleheader featuring the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors. Three of those four teams are in the top five for the first DK Network power rankings of the year.

The Nuggets enter in the top spot as the defending champions who bring back most of the roster. Bruce Brown left in free agency, but Denver has some capable replacement options with Christian Braun, Julian Strawther and Hunter Tyson. The Suns have formed a “Big 3” featuring Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal and come in at the No. 4 spot. The Lakers brought back most of their roster from the Western Conference Finals run a year ago and also added important rotation players, putting them at the No. 5 spot.

The other two spots in the top five go to the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics as the heavyweights of the Eastern Conference. The Bucks made the biggest move of the summer by trading for Damian Lillard, but the Celtics were able to get Jrue Holiday in a secondary deal with the Trail Blazers to bring the former Bucks point guard back into the Eastern Conference. The Celtics also made a move for Kristaps Porzingis earlier in the summer after the big man had a career year with the Wizards.

Here’s a look at the full power rankings as the season gets underway.

NBA Power Rankings 1.1

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