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.

IHSA Football Playoff Pairings Show Roundup

IHSA Football Playoff Pairings Show Roundup

CLASS 1A

Revealing the Class 1A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 1A Bracket

CLASS 2A

Revealing the Class 2A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 2A Bracket

CLASS 3A

Revealing the Class 3A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 3A Bracket

CLASS 4A

Revealing the Class 4A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 4A Bracket

Predicting Class 1A-4A

CLASS 5A

Revealing the Class 5A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 5A Bracket

CLASS 6A

Revealing the Class 6A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 6A Bracket

CLASS 7A

Revealing the Class 7A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 7A Bracket

CLASS 8A

Revealing the Class 8A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 8A Bracket

Class 7A and Class 8A Predictions

 

In ugly home opener, Lauri Markkanen gives a glimmer of hope

In ugly home opener, Lauri Markkanen gives a glimmer of hope

Keeping the game simple is often a tough task for rookies entering the NBA, but it seems Lauri Markkanen has been a quick learner in that aspect.

Through two games he’s probably the lone bright spot, especially after the Bulls’ cringe-inducing 87-77 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in their home opener at the United Center.

Jumper not falling? Okay, go to the basket.

“It wasn’t falling so I tried to get to the rim a couple times,” Markkanen said. “At the end, I was like let’s do it and I connected on a 3-pointer, I felt more open just because I was at the rim. I think that helped.”

He was asked what the difference was in the second game of his career compared to the first.

“I mean the crowd was chanting for us (tonight),” Markkanen said, referring to Thursday in Toronto.

He wasn’t attempting to display any dry wit but applying common sense seems to work for him, even though he’s been thrust into a situation after an incident that doesn’t make any sense.

With Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic out for the foreseeable future, playing a game-high 37 minutes will be more common than anomaly.

“Whatever your minutes are, you gotta play them to the best of your ability,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s being allowed to play through some mistakes right now. He’s gonna play heavy minutes every night.”

He only shot five of 14 but achieved his first double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds after a 17-point, eight-rebound debut against the Raptors Thursday.

No, someone didn’t open a door for a draft to come into the United Center on that three-pointer that went wide left, but it didn’t stop him from being assertive and continuing to look for his shot.

There was plenty of muck, easy to see on the stat sheet. The 38 percent shooting overall, the lack of penetration, the 29 percent shooting from 3-point range and 20 turnovers.

It’s not hard to imagine what Markkanen will look like with competent and effective NBA players around him, along with a true facilitating point guard that will find him in this offense.

“Markkanen is a wonderful player,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s aggressive, he’s smart and obviously, he can shoot the ball. He’s just going to get better and better as he figures things out.”

He received a crash course, facing the likes of Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay Saturday night. On one instance, Gay drove baseline and made Markkanen buckle with a 3-point play.

Aldridge had 24 shots in 32 minutes as a new focal point with Kawhi Leonard out with injury.

So he’s not getting treated with kid gloves, nor is he backing down from the assignments.

“He didn’t shoot the ball well but he battled,” Hoiberg said. “He had a tough assignment with Pau, who’s gonna be in the Hall of Fame one day. Good experience. He guarded Aldridge, Rudy Gay some. He battled, he fought them.”

Even with the airball, had the moment that gives the Bulls fans hope, when he drove on Gasol, spun and hooked a lefty layup while being fouled by the veteran in the first half—giving the United Center faithful something to have faith in for a moment.

“Sometimes you get labeled as a shooter. That’s the label Lauri had,” Hoiberg said. “But he really is a complete basketball player. He’s versatile, he can put in on the deck. He slides his feet very well for a guy that’s seven feet tall, someone his age. Yeah, he’s learning on the fly. He’s gonna have ups and downs, as young as he is. He’s gonna have some struggles at times. But he’s played pretty darn well for everything he’s been through, understanding two days ago he’s gonna be in the starting lineup.”

And for all the bad air around the Bulls right now, from the on-court product to the off-court drama that seems to follow them around like Pigpen, it would be even worse if Markkanen’s first two games had him looking like a corpse, or someone who would be a couple years away from reasonably contributing to an NBA team.

“He’s good, he’s very good,” Gasol said. “I like him. I like his game.”