NBA Western Power Rankings Week 8: Clippers hang onto 4th

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Dec 23, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Randy Foye (4) reacts after making a three point basket against the Phoenix Suns during the second half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Nuggets won 104-96. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

11th: Denver Nuggets (16 points)

By Tom West

Record: 12-17

Last 10 games: 6-4

The Nuggets have a couple of solid results to their name after defeating the Houston Rockets 108-114 on December 14 and edging past the Phoenix Suns 104-96 on December 23, but their season has been incredibly inconsistent. That being said, it’s hard to expect much more.

Danilo Gallinari (currently injured) is leading the way with 17.3 points per game, yet he’s doing so on 38.9 percent shooting. Emmanuel Mudiay has his moments, although turnover problems and 31 percent shooting from your rookie point guard won’t do much for the team. In fact, it’s Will Barton who has emerged as a surprisingly big difference maker. With 15.7 points per game and a 40.8 percent three point stroke, he’s elevated his shooting while almost doubling his scoring output from a year ago.

Thanks to Kobe Bryant’s heroics and a vintage 31 points with 11 in the fourth quarter, the Nuggets were taken down by the lowly Lakers on December 22. With rankings below 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, though, and no star players or reliable team defense, it’s not surprising the Nuggets are struggling.

After a slight improvement by winning six of their last 10 games and winning a couple of respectable games as of late, the Nuggets have just about done enough to escape being a bottom-four team this week.

Next: Sacramento Kings