Preps Talk

Power Rankings: Knicks rising, Nuggets falling in opening week

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Power Rankings: Knicks rising, Nuggets falling in opening week

By Tony Andracki & Mark Strotman

Each Monday throughout the regular season, Mark Strotman and Tony Andracki will rank all 30 NBA teams. Below are Week 2 Power Rankings. Think we're way off? Agree with our picks? Hit us up on Twitter at @BullsTalkCSN with comments or criticisms.
Past rankings: Preseason

  Tony
 Mark Comments 1
 Tony: The class of the NBA so far. Parker is on fire.
 Mark: Parker, Duncan out to prove age never a factor in San Antonio.
 2
 Tony: That blowout loss to NYK bumps them down a peg.
 Mark: Hiccup in New York, still look like team to beat in the East.
 3
 Tony: Chris Paul will be in the MVP discussion all year.
 Mark: Jamal Crawford for (very) early Sixth Man of the Year?
 4
 Tony: Not a great record to start, but will right the ship. Mark: Carmelo hasn't slowed down since the Olympics as Knicks beat Heat, Sixers.
 5
 Tony: More concerned about Nash's injury over 1-3 start.
 Mark: Still figuring out life post-Harden, but Durant's rebounding numbers impressive.
 6
 Tony: Really beat up on MIA. Will Felton stick at PG?
 Mark: Granger's knee starting to be a concern. 7
 Tony: This is Paul George's breakout season.
 Mark: Not worried about sluggish start. 8
 Tony: Closely watching Deron Williams' ankle.
 Mark: Very tough schedule to open season, but Iguodala and Lawson look great.
 9
 Tony: Really needed that win at home against New Orleans.
 Mark: Move over Boston: Brooklyn's herringbone court the best in the game.
 10
 Tony: This is my surprise team to make the playoffs. Love the talent.
 Mark: Not time to panic just yet, but Nash (leg) could miss 4 weeks.
 11
 Tony: Once they get Dirk back, they'll be Top 10 team.
 Mark: Jrue Holiday is a franchise point guard.
 12
 Tony: Lou Williams a great fit for this offense.
 Mark: Jae Crowder a pleasant surprise off the bench; Mayo looking like a FA steal.
 13
 Tony: Remember when people said Harden wasn't worth a max deal?
 Mark: Grizzlies right where they should be.
 14
 Tony: Great starting 5, but they don't have depth.
 Mark: Huge win over the Thunder; even more impressive doing it without Josh Smith.
 15
 Tony: Off to a really good start. Jennings looks smarter, better.
 Mark: Nice 2-0 start, but where is Ilyosova?
 16
 Tony: Horrendous start to the year, but will figure it out.
 Mark: Offense hasn't found rhythm yet, but defense looks solid early.
 17
 Tony: Need to shore up their defense.
 Mark: Brandon Rush (torn ACL) will be missed.
 18
 Tony: This may be Jrue Holiday's breakout season.
 Mark: So James Harden was worth 80 million, huh Oklahoma City?
 19
 Tony: Will struggle in the powerhouse West.
 Mark: Damian Lillard is for real, and could make a push for Rookie of the Year honors.
 20
 Tony: I think Mo williams is glad to be running the point again.
 Mark: Interior offense, not Mo Williams, the problem early on.
 21
 Tony: Just need to stay around .500 until LoveRubio get back.
 Mark: Almost went 3-0 to open season, but lost late lead to San Antonio.
 22
 Tony: Off to a great start, even with Gordon out indefinitely.
 Mark: Kyle Lowry looking like one of the biggest steals of the offseason.
 23
 Tony: Luis Scola looks reborn right now.
 Mark: Looks like Love will miss the full six weeks recovering from broken hand.
 24
 Tony: I like this team, but postseason may still be a year away.
 Mark: Arron Afflalo, Glen Davis and J.J. Redick all performing well for 2-0 Magic.
 25
 Tony: Young team, but still not quite playoff-ready.
 Mark: Michael Beasley could average 18 points per game in this offense.
 26
 Tony: Surprising start led by J.J. Redick's sharpshooting.
 Mark: Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao are by themselves in this fight.
 27
 Tony: Kemba is turning into a star.
 Mark: Pistons have played a tough schedule, but haven't looked good in losses, either.
 28
 Tony: Will rack up a lot of losses this year.
 Mark: There's no discipline in Sacramento, and Kings won't go anywhere until DMC grows up.
 29
 Tony: They need their playmaker back.
 Mark: Opening night win took everything out of them; lost to Dallas by 26 the next night.
 30
 Tony: Rodney Stuckey is off to an ugly, ugly start.
 Mark: John Wall can't return soon enough.

High School Lites Week 9 football roundup

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High School Lites Week 9 football roundup

High School Lites featured plenty of great action on Friday night as NBC Sports Chicago had highlights of many of the area's top matchups. Some playoff dreams came to fruition while others crashed and burned. 

Watch tomorrow as the IHSA playoff brackets are revealed tomorrow on NBC Sports Chicago+ at 8 p.m. Be sure to also follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for all of the latest IHSA football scores and highlights. 

DRIVE: Prairie Ridge: Episode 10

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Back of the Yards QB Jeremiah Harris

St. Xavier Team of the Week: De La Salle Meteors

Friday's Top 25 Games

No. 1 Lincoln-Way East 18, No. 19 Bolingbrook 14 

No. 2 Prairie Ridge 55, Dundee-Crown 14

No. 3 Maine South 56, Niles West 9

No. 4 Marist 42, Joliet Catholic 14

No. 5 Lake Zurich , Mundelein

No. 6 Phillips 53, Clark 0

No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor 50, Sandburg 14

No. 10 Barrington 40, Conant 19

No. 11 Huntley 45, McHenry 7

No. 12 Naperville Central 35, Lake Park 21

No. 13 Hinsdale Central 42, Hinsdale South 14

No. 24 St. Charles North 35, No. 14 Batavia 28

No. 16 Wheaton North 20, Waubonsie Valley 10

No. 17 Crete-Monee 52, Cahokia 8

No. 18 St. Rita 47, Marmion 14

No. 20 Lyons 31, Oak Park-River Forest 14

No. 21 Nazareth 48, Marian Catholic 7

No. 22 Oswego 30, Plainfield Central 0

Mount Carmel 35, No. 23 Providence 34

Other Highlights

Tinley Park 29, Evergreen Park 0

T.F. South 21, Oak Forest 14

Glenbard North 24, Neuqua Valley 14

St. Edward 29, Wheaton Academy 28

Marian Central Catholic 44, St. Patrick 21

Saturday's Top 25 Games

No. 7 Loyola vs. Brother Rice

No. 8 Glenbard West vs. Proviso West

Cubs will be open for business as Theo Epstein weighs trading hitters for pitching

Cubs will be open for business as Theo Epstein weighs trading hitters for pitching

Theo Epstein answered questions from the Chicago media for more than an hour on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, but the most interesting part might have been what the Cubs president didn’t say, something along the lines of: These are our guys.

Or at least Epstein didn’t give the same full-throated endorsement of The Core that he delivered after engineering the Jose Quintana trade with the White Sox this summer, getting an All-Star pitcher without giving up anyone from the big-league roster.

Whether it’s the way the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Cubs throughout the National League Championship Series that ended Thursday night, the inconsistencies and frustrations during a 43-45 first half of this season or the reality of losing 40 percent of the rotation, you walked out of that stadium club press conference thinking big changes could be coming.

“We’re going to pursue all avenues to get better,” Epstein said.

The Cubs already understood this would be a challenging time to dramatically reshape their pitching staff, with Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Big Boy John Lackey and All-Star closer Wade Davis about to become free agents.

The Cubs don’t really have many (any?) high-end, headliner prospects left to trade after borrowing heavily from their farm system to acquire Aroldis Chapman for last year’s World Series run and get Quintana to help solidify the rotation through 2020.

All of Major League Baseball is looking beyond this winter and preparing for the monster free-agent class that will hit the open market after the 2018 season.

Meaning it’s time for the Cubs to make some difficult decisions about all these young hitters they’ve collected.

“It may or may not be,” Epstein said. “Those choices, they’re not unilateral things. You can’t sit there and decide: ‘Hey, this guy, we’re moving him.’ Because you don’t know what the return might be. You don’t know how the different moving parts might fit together.

“I think going into the offseason prepared to make some tough choices and execute on them — and keeping an open mind to anything — is appropriate under the circumstances where we have some obvious deficits and we have some real surplus with talented players who are really desirable.”

Let’s assume All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, MVP third baseman Kris Bryant and catcher Willson Contreras are essentially untouchable.

The Cubs used the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft on Ian Happ with the explicit idea that the college hitter should be on a fast track and could be flipped for pitching later: Is it time to sell high after the rookie just put up 24 homers and an .842 OPS?

During an exit meeting with Albert Almora Jr., Epstein said he couldn’t promise an everyday job in 2018, though the expectation would be more responsibilities: Think anyone else would be interested in a potential Gold Glove center fielder who’s already playoff-tested?

Do you want Addison Russell or Javier Baez as your everyday shortstop for the next four years? Is there an American League team willing to bet big that Kyle Schwarber will crush 40 homers a year as a designated hitter?

The Cubs have to ask themselves those types of questions, which could mean getting outside of their comfort zone and taking on some riskier pitching investments and sapping the strength that has turned them into the dominant force in the NL Central.

“We’ve really benefitted from having two or three extra — and ‘extra’ in quotes because they’re not really extra — starting-caliber players on the roster,” Epstein said. “That helped us win 97 games in ’15, 103 last year, 92 this year. That’s as big a part of the club as anything.

“Having an Addison Russell go down and being able to move Javy Baez to shortstop — that’s an obvious example of it. But those things show up every week for us. There’s a day where someone can’t make the lineup and someone else slides in and you’re still starting eight quality guys. That’s huge.

“Sooner or later, you reach a point where you have to strongly consider sacrificing some of that depth to address needs elsewhere on the club. There’s no sort of deadline to do that. But I think we’re entering the phase where we have to be really open-minded to that if it makes the overall outlook of the team and organization better.”

Translation: The Cubs are open for business. Make your best offer.