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Nuggets center Nikola Jokic smiles prior to taking on the Knicks on Oct. 30, 2017. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
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ESPN ranks the Nuggets ahead of the wheeling and dealing teams in West

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Much has been made about the splashy moves made by teams in the Western Conference during the offseason. From free-agent acquisitions to marquee trades, the landscape has been transformed dramatically in the past couple of weeks.

During that time, one top team has remained relatively quiet. While the Clippers, Jazz, Lakers and Rockets made huge moves to drastically change their rosters, the Nuggets pretty much stood pat. Yes, they acquired Jerami Grant, but that trade pales in comparison to deals that involve Mike Conley, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook and other perennial All-Star players.

As a result, a lot of people believe Denver has slid in terms of prominence in the conference. Last season, they were the No. 2 in the West, a spot many believe will be tough to repeat.

But while the oddsmakers and columnists might be down on the Nuggets, one group remains bullish on Michael Malone’s team. In their most-recent power rankings, ESPN had high praise for Denver.

According to the Worldwide Leaders, the Nuggets are the second-best team in the entire league, destined to meet the Bucks in the NBA Finals. That’s incredibly lofty praise, a sign that the basketball experts at ESPN believe in the idea that continuity and experience will help Denver take another leap next season.

A lot can change between mid-July and the start of the season. But during an offseason that has seemed like one gut punch after another, these power rankings were a breath of fresh air.