Nick Ashooh

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NBA Power Rankings 2017-18: Rockets keep winning, Wizards have help coming

USA Today Sports

NBA Power Rankings 2017-18: Rockets keep winning, Wizards have help coming

The Warriors just demolished everyone in their path on a six-game road trip. The Celtics only have six losses on the year. 

Neither team is at the top of the rankings this week.


The NBA has a ton of teams right now that continue to put together really successful stretches.

LeBron James and the Cavs are back to their winning ways after having their 13-game win streak snapped by the Pacers.

Speaking of the Pacers, that Paul George trade that was supposed to be one-sided, is actually working more in favor of Indiana right now.

The Wizards also get a boost with John Wall on his way back, as they try to hold steady in the rankings as well.


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NBA commissioner Adam Silver is not a fan of 'The Process'

NBA commissioner Adam Silver is not a fan of 'The Process'

There's a dirty word that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver really hates saying. 


It's been something the league has been trying to find a way to eliminate for a while. 

Silver sees it as bad for business when teams make it incredibly obvious that they want nothing to do with winning during the season, instead opting for piling up losses and a chance to increase those ping pong ball odds and land a higher draft pick in the summer.


In his courtside interview with our Chris Miller Wednesday night though, Silver was asked about how teams like the Sixers have handled their rebuilding, and he wasn't shy about his dislike for "The Process".

He even said the dirty word at one point. 

"I haven't made a secret out of the fact that, in terms of the so-called 'process', we actually just changed the draft lottery. Not that the team (Sixers) did anything wrong, they took advantage of existing rules, but in fairness to other teams in the league you now have a team in the 76ers who had one of the worst four-year records in the history of the league. And that's not good for anybody" said Silver. 

The rule changes Silver is talking about will reduce the odds so that the teams with the three worst records will share the same chance of receiving the No. 1 overall draft pick.  

This starts in the 2019 NBA Draft. 

Will it really  deter teams from trying to increase their odds? Maybe slightly.

The fact is though, that unless you're a franchise that can afford to pay multiple superstars in free agency, drafting young talent is the way to build a winner. 

"I accept that a certain amount of rebuilding needs to happen, and is appropriate," Silver added. "But you want to have continuity, you want players to feel like they're part of something". 

Silver went on to say that players don't tank, which is true. Organizations just put out talent they see as inferior, hoping they'll just be able to ride out the season and look towards the future with better odds at improving. 

Look at not only the Sixers, but also what they're building in Minnesota. Heck, the Warriors (before signing Kevin Durant) built a championship team through the draft. 

Creating a winner takes years, and the way to preserve it is with young talent through the draft, which is something the Wizards now have locked up as well. 

As for the future of "The Process" and "tanking", there's really only so much the NBA can do to avoid it. 





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2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year rankings


2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year rankings

We came into the 2017-18 NBA season with a rookie class dripping with hype. 

After last year's group, that saw second-round pick Malcolm Brogdon win Rookie of the Year in surprising fashion, most NBA fans were ready to see more of the "instant NBA star" type of rookie this year.

The problem is, they're just that, rookies.

Far too often we forget it takes time for even the most talented players to adjust to life at this level. 

Some early on have shown they have potential to be stars, others, have a lot to learn. 

Then there's the few, who weren't part of the hype train, that have taken the casual NBA fan by surprise so far this season.

Here's our NBA Rookie of the Year Rankings:


5. Kyle Kuzma, Lakers

Most expected a different name to be the best rookie on the Lakers in 2017. Kuzma though, has been the one to stand out so far.

Early in player's careers, shooting can be a major issue (*as you immediately think of Lonzo Ball*). 

Kuzma is shooting 50 percent from the field and 38 percent from three, on over four attempts per game. 

He's also leading the Lakers in scoring, and competing with his teammate Ball as to who's better with the media.


4. Lauri Markkanen, Bulls

The early production from Markkanen can certainly help ease the pain of the Jimmy Butler trade this offseason.

The 7-footer out of Arizona, naturally, draws comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki  and Kristaps Porzinigis, with his size and ability to stretch the floor. 

Markkanen has shown an early knack for rebounding, along with an ability to put the ball on the floor. 

Yes the Bulls are terrible, but at least they seem to have one player they can build a future around.


3. Donovan Mitchell, Jazz

During the draft, there was a sort of cult-following for Mitchell, mainly because of his ability to get you to click on every YouTube dunk video with his name on it. 

So far though, Mitchell has proven to be vital to the post-Gordon Hayward Jazz. 

More than just a high-flying 3-and-D guy, Mitchell is second in scoring for Utah, and is showing the rest of the league how deep this draft class just might end up being.




2. Jayson Tatum, Celtics

Tatum has a chance to end up being the most complete player in this draft down the road. 

The biggest thing about him is the amount of improvement we've seen since his one year at Duke. 

He's shooting nearly 50 percent overall, and 48 percent from three, which is a massive improvement from college.

Add that to the fact that he can get you 14 points a game on just nine shots, far and away the fewest attempts out of any player on this list. 

Just think, the Celtics traded DOWN to get this kid. 


1. Ben Simmons, Sixers

The amazing part about Simmons has been that he's made himself such a threat offensively without making a single three-pointer yet this year.

In fact, he doesn't even try. Almost 73 percent of his shot attempts are inside 10 feet. 

He's the size of a center, playing point guard, and is a triple-double threat almost every night. 

You do wonder though, how teams will use his lack of outside shooting against him as time goes on.

For now though, it's more fun to just sit back and watch him make the Sixers worth our attention again. 


"Guys to keep an eye on" tier: Dennis Smith Jr., De'Aaron Fox, John Collins, Frank Ntilikina, Mike James

The "where have they been?" tier: Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, Markelle Fultz