Bulls

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are the playoffs in sight for the Bulls?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are the playoffs in sight for the Bulls?

On this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Seth Gruen and Ben Finfer join Chuck Garfien on the panel.

The Bulls win again. Do they dare think playoffs? Vincent Goodwill joins the guys to discuss.

Plus, they debate where the “Minneapolis Miracle” ranks amongst the greatest plays in NFL playoff history and if Tom Ricketts is right to say that Sammy Sosa needs to put everything on the table to rejoin the Cubs family.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Lauri Markkanen ranked 66th in ESPN's Top 100 NBA players

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USA TODAY

Lauri Markkanen ranked 66th in ESPN's Top 100 NBA players

Last week, budding Bulls star Lauri Markkanen was ranked 84th among the Top 100 NBA players by Sports Illustrated.

This week, ESPN released their own Top 100 NBA players list and they favored Markkanen a bit more, slotting him in at 66.

"After a strong rookie season highlighted by 145 made 3s, Markkanen should take another jump in offensive efficiency with more weapons at Fred Hoiberg's disposal," ESPN's Mike Schmitz wrote.

ESPN's poll was determined by a vote amongst an expert panel, while Sports Illustrated's version of the list aimed to combine the subjective with some objective data. 

In the blurb accompanying the ranking, ESPN was notably more optimistic about Markkanen heading into the season. Schmitz noted the addition of "a rebounding, shot-blocking center like Wendell Carter Jr. also lets the Finnish 7-footer focus more on his strengths."

Both Sports Illustrated and ESPN seemed concerned about Markkanen's ability to be the playmaker amidst a cast of players -- including Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker -- all looking to score.

Pundits, however, appear ready to anoint Markkanen as the focal point of the Bulls offense as the team's best player. Markkanen is the only Bulls player to appear in both lists, though ESPN hasn't released 1-50 yet.

Sports Illustrated ranked former Bulls star Jimmy Butler at No. 10 and LaVine was added to their self-imposed snubs list. LaVine and Markkanen, along with Kris Dunn, were traded to the Bulls by the Timberwolves in exchange for Butler the night of the 2017 NBA Draft.

31 Days to Opening Night: Michael Jordan's career 50-point games

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AP

31 Days to Opening Night: Michael Jordan's career 50-point games

No, he isn’t Wilt Chamberlain, who accomplished the feat an absurd 118 times. But Jordan’s 31 50-point games still rank second all-time in NBA history, and it doesn’t look like anyone is catching him anytime soon (LeBron, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and James Harden have a COMBINED 30 such games).

Jordan’s averages in his 50-point games? 54.1 points on 60.9 percent shooting, 7.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists. The Bulls went 22-8 in those games, and the Wizards (sorry for the reminder) went 1-0. Jordan also had eight playoff games of 50 or more points, including his 63-point outing against the 1986 Celtics. The Bulls went 6-2 in the postseason when Jordan topped 50 points.

The most incredible feat in all this might be that Jordan had more career games of scoring 50 or more points (31) than he had games of scoring 11 or fewer points (26). That’s correct: In 1,072 games, Jordan was more likely to score 50 on an opponent than be held to 11 or fewer points, from age 21 to 39.

Previous Countdown to Opening Night posts:

38. Bobby Portis' career-high in points

37. Michael Jordan's career-best PPG in 1987

36. Lauri Markkanen's 3-point FG% as a rookie

35. Michael Jordan's PPG in 1988, his first MVP season

34. Wendell Carter

33. Scottie Pippen

32. Kris Dunn