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Denver Stiffs Power Rankings Week 4: Heavy is the Head That Wears The Crown

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With four weeks gone on the NBA schedule, it's becoming clear that there are a few title contenders and then there's everyone else.

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The Nuggets played the Warriors about as well as could be expected, especially with Kenneth Faried out of the lineup with a variety of injuries.

It shouldn't be surprising that the Warriors are the top team once again, but what's becoming more difficult is sorting out the teams outside the top three. Ten teams in the Eastern Conference have a record above .500, with only four teams in the Western Conference with a record above .500. Last year the Western Conference was a "Legends of the Hidden Temple" challenge, with a bunch of excellent teams, but this year it's a different story, and the rankings will reflect that.

Here's the Denver Stiffs NBA power rankings, with an eye to the future while considering current results as well.

Rank Team Stiffiness Summary Move (LW)
1 Golden State Warriors Sweet 16 tonight against the Lakers. The question isn't if, it's by how much. ESPN projects the Warriors as favorites in 65 of their remaining 67 games. They're doing all this without Steve Kerr, so there's actually a way they improve this season. -- (1)
2 San Antonio Spurs If Ryan Anderson hadn't exploded for 30 points, the Spurs would have had another perfect week. Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills are helping off the bench, and the Spurs depth continues to make a difference. -- (2)
3 Cleveland Cavaliers Mo Williams is down, leaving Aussie Jesus to run the point for the Cavs. It's a little concerning that LeBron is playing 36 minutes a game, opening the possibility of another two-week break once Kyrie returns to the lineup. -- (3)
4 Chicago Bulls Nikola Mirotic is shooting 36 percent, and that's a number that has to go up or else Fred Hoiberg is going to have to mix up the starting lineup. +1 (5)
5 Miami Heat Goran Dragic has been better lately, but he hasn't played up to his contract yet. The Heat want to slow down the game and defend, which means Dragic needs to create in half-court. Still contenders with him at his current level though. +4 (9)
6 Oklahoma City Thunder Third best offense in the league, and that's with Kevin Durant missing six games. If Billy Donovan can continue to figure things out, and the defense can be good for stretches, this team has the best chance of beating Golden State. +2 (8)
7 Dallas Mavericks The Mavs lost to the Thunder in KD's return, but a six-game win streak boosts the Mavericks up the rankings. Dwight Powell is fourth on the team in scoring, which is another way of saying Rick Carlisle is a maestro. +8 (15)
8 Atlanta Hawks Losing to Brooklyn sucks, but losing Kent Bazemore sucks more. Dennis Schroder is the next backup point guard to get a big contract someday, with 25 assists over 3 games in relief of Jeff Teague. -2 (6)
9 Phoenix Suns The Suns backcourt is capable of heating up and taking over a game. They definitely made the right decision trading Dragic and acquiring Brandon Knight. They get a chance for revenge against the Pelicans tomorrow. +2 (11)
10 Indiana Pacers The Pacers had a light week, but blew out the 76ers and Bucks. The move to "power forward" for Paul George has the young forward putting up career-best numbers across the board. There's something to this small-ball trend, I tell ya. +6 (16)
11 Toronto Raptors The sportiest Jonas brother is out for six weeks with a hand injury, and the Raptors suddenly don't seem as imposing. Valanciunas was a key player for Toronto, and they'll really miss him over this stretch. -7 (4)
12 Utah Jazz Wow, Kevin Durant, huh? I love the idea of the triple-wing offense, but how many games is Gordon Hayward going to help them win? This season is going to end up being the "What if Dante was healthy" season. -2 (10)
13 Los Angeles Clippers Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith are causing problems in the locker room? Please, tell me how unexpected this was. There's a little reason to panic, but not a lot. More concerning is that the offense isn't as dominant as usual. -6 (7)
14 Boston Celtics Losing a player like Marcus Smart would hurt most teams, but the Celtics have so many backup guards, it can't hurt that much, right? The Nets stole a game from them, Brad Stevens can't be happy with that. -1 (13)
15 Washington Wizards The Wizards have four games in five days, having only played 10 games this season. Randy Wittman probably wishes Otto Porter's 3-point percentage was better than the current rate of 28.6 percent. -3 (12)
16 Charlotte Hornets The Hornets took advantage of games against Brooklyn and Philly, but they're getting balanced scoring to power their fourth-best offense. Six players are averaging double figures, and they're playing like a playoff team. -3 (19)
17 Detroit Pistons The Pistons will be tested with games against Miami and Oklahoma City this week, as Stan Van Gundy continues to work with his bench to try to avoid playing the starters 35-plus minutes per game. -- (17)
18 Memphis Grizzlies The Grizzlies had a light week, beating Houston by 12 before losing to San Antonio by 10 the next night. At least trading for Mario Chalmers has been nice, with the veteran guard taking seven free throw attempts per game so far. -- (18)
19 New York Knicks Go ahead and make Kristaps king of New York. The Latvian rookie is playing far better than expected, and recently put up a 24/14 game with 7 blocks. The Knicks made the right decision in the draft. +5 (24)
20 Milwaukee Bucks The Bucks are a young team, and the loss of Jared Dudley and Zaza Pachulia hurt them most with overall experience. Greg Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams have been awful together. -2 (18)
21 Minnesota Timberwolves If Minnesota had lost to Philadelphia, they would have been much, much lower. A win over Miami was nice, with Wiggins and Towns continuing to develop. They'll need to find a new head coach after this season. -- (21)
22 Denver Nuggets The Nuggets aren't defending the 3-point line, but with the talent they have, you have to be impressed with Michael Malone. It was sweet to see Stephen Curry giving Emmanuel Mudiay props post-game as well. +3 (25)
23 Orlando Magic Scott Skiles is struggling to get through to Nikola Vucevic, and Victor Oladipo isn't playing as well as he'd like either. Evan Fournier is becoming Skiles drug, he can't help but call plays for him. +1 (22)
24 Houston Rockets The Rockets have two quality wins this season, and Ty Lawson is killing their offense. The trade for the former Nuggets point guard would be worse if they hadn't given up nothing to get him. They stink on both ends of the court. -4 (20)
25 Sacramento Kings They can win games with Boogie in the lineup, but George Karl hasn't been able to help craft this team into a winning group yet. It's too bad "The Association" covered them last year and not this season. +1 (26)
26 Portland Trail Blazers They got the disheveled Clippers and the LOLakers, but the Trail Blazers are Damian Liilard and an island of misfit toys. They're one game out of the playoffs, and if they figure things out, they could compete for the 8-seed. Seems unlikely though. -3 (23)
27 New Orleans Pelicans The Pelicans can start climbing out of the hole they're in, but it's going to be difficult to fully escape. At least the Western Conference pooped their pants in unison while the Pelicans struggled. -- (27)
28 Brooklyn Nets Ben Simmons had a 20/20 night with seven assists the other night. Another small reminder of the lunacy of the Nets giving their pick away to the Celtics for an improbably title run. +1 (29)
29 Los Angeles Lakers It's not okay to criticize Byron Scott for being a perfect coach for the Lakers this season. They need to be one of the worst three teams in the league before clearing house for John Calipari or some other superstar coach. -1 (28)
30 Philadelphia 76ers Sam Hinkie has finally created his monster - the worst basketball team in the league. They're losing by 13.5 points per game, and their talent is comical at best. Okafor can score but can't defend in space. -- (30)