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NBA power rankings: Thunder, Magic enter the top 10 while Bulls continue sinking

Here’s Chinmay Vaidya’s updated power rankings after the fifth week of the 2023-24 season.

Charlotte Hornets v Orlando Magic
Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic handles the ball during the game against the Charlotte Hornets on November 26, 2023 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

If the early standings in the 2023-24 season are any indication of how competitive the league will be for the stretch run, we are in for a real treat as fans. Only 4.5 games separate the 10th team from the top seed in both conferences, and there’s some new names in the playoff mix to start the year.

The Oklahoma City Thunder made plenty of noise a season ago, even winning a game in the play-in tournament ahead of schedule thanks to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s rise to superstardom. The point guard is now accompanied by the likes of Josh Giddey, Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams to form one of the best young teams in the league. The Thunder are in a great spot to be competitive for years to come.

In the East, the Orlando Magic have rattled off seven straight wins to put themselves just one game behind the Celtics at the top of the conference. Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner form arguably the best young 1-2 punch in basketball, and the Magic have been able to find bit contributors while Wendell Carter Jr. and Jonathan Isaac get healthy. Orlando has no designs on tanking and should be in the postseason race for much of the year.

The Phoenix Suns have also won seven in a row despite their “Big 3” being in and out of the lineup. Kevin Durant’s foot injury is concerning and Bradley Beal should be ready to come back soon from a back issue, so there’s reasons to be optimistic. The Indiana Pacers are competitive as well with Tyrese Haliburton leading the league’s best offense. The Pacers could be last year’s Sacramento Kings.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks have hit a bit of a lull. The Nuggets will get Jamal Murray back soon and got an important win over the Spurs Sunday, while the Mavericks are 5-5 in their last 10 after a strong start. The Chicago Bulls are the only team at the bottom of the standings that doesn’t want to be there, and this franchise could eventually blow everything up with trades. Expect more noise around Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic as the calendar turns to December.

Here’s a look at the full power rankings after the fifth week.

NBA Power Rankings After Week 5

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