2023-24 NBA Power Rankings: Celtics reclaim top spot with Thunder closing in

While the Boston Celtics are establishing themselves as the team to beat in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, the defending champion Denver Nuggets are finding their superiority in the West and being challenged from an unlikely place: their very own division.

The result is another significant shake up in this week’s FOX Sports Power Rankings, with a shocking new entrant in the top five: the Oklahoma City Thunder. A five-game winning streak — including four road wins — moved them up from 13th to No. 4.

Don’t be surprised if they hang around the upper echelon, either. Despite being the second-youngest squad in the league, the Thunder have multiple playmakers, led by a rising MVP candidate in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and a collective defensive mindset that has limited their opponent to 40% shooting or less in four of their last five games.

Posting the NBA’s best winning percentage despite facing the toughest schedule put the Celtics back in the No. 1 slot, nudging last week’s top team, the Philadelphia 76ers, into second with a head-to-head 117-107 win. The Nuggets, meanwhile, tumbled all the way to fifth in the rankings — and third in the Northwest Division — after back-to-back losses to two teams struggling to stay around .500, the Cleveland Cavaliers and New Orleans Pelicans. The same Pelicans that the Minnesota Timberwolves edged to move up from fifth to third, making them the best of the West heading into the week.


The Thunder aren’t the only young team looking to end their perennial lottery-bound ways; the Orlando Magic held onto their No. 7 spot with a 3-1 road trip.

Both the Sacramento Kings and Milwaukee Bucks benefited from the return of their starting point guard — D’Aaron Fox for the Kings, Damian Lillard for the Bucks — to climb back into the top 10. Conversely, no top team’s stock plummeted more than the Atlanta Hawks, who went 1-3 with their lone win over the bottom-dwelling Detroit Pistons. For anyone wondering why the Golden State Warriors haven’t been dragged down further in the rankings by their six-game losing streak: strength of schedule. According to Basketball Reference, no one has had a tougher slate, by a fairly wide margin, than Stephen Curry & Co., and almost every loss has come down to a last possession.

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NBA Power Rankings

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

Ric Bucher is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He previously wrote for Bleacher Report, ESPN The Magazine and The Washington Post and has written two books, “Rebound,” on NBA forward Brian Grant’s battle with young onset Parkinson’s, and “Yao: A Life In Two Worlds.” He also has a daily podcast, “On The Ball with Ric Bucher.” Follow him on Twitter @RicBucher.

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