Bulls

NBA Power Rankings: Bledsoe keeping LAC afloat

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NBA Power Rankings: Bledsoe keeping LAC afloat

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 11 Power Rankings. Think we're way off? Agree with our picks? Hit us up on Twitter at@BullsTalkCSNwith comments or criticisms.
Past rankings:PreseasonWeek 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7 Week 8 Week 10

Tony
MarkComments1
Tony: Durant plays like he's a cheat code.
Mark: An NBA-best 18-3 against the Western conference.
2
Tony: Bledsoe starring in CP3's absence.
Mark: How many teams would use Eric Bledose as a starter?
3
Tony: Same old, same old. Can Popp stir up some controversy again?
Mark: Ginobili missing two weeks will hurt quest for top spot in the West.
4
Tony: Trade Rudy Gay? Why would they do that? Legit title shot this year.
Mark: LeBron is still my MVP pick, but they need to figure out road woes.
5
Tony: David Lee is playing like a Warrior. Get it?
Mark: LeBron is still my MVP pick, but they need to figure out road woes.
6
Tony: Wow, never thought I'd move Heat out of Top 5, but they've lost 4 of 6.
Mark: Nuggets have won 8 of 10, are 14-2 at home. Rising fast.7
Tony: Gotta find a way to beat CHI.
Mark: Don't expect Carmelo to take any cereal endorsements in the near future.8
Tony: Lawson, Iggy leading well-balanced unit.
Mark: How long can this thing (No. 5 in the West) last?
9
Tony: Hottest team in the league right now.
Mark: An Eastern Conference-best 8-2 over their last 10 games.
10
Tony: Awesome at home, not so much on the road.
Mark: Danny Granger nearing a return, which could mean trouble for fellow Central Division foes.
11
Tony: Man, they need to shore up their play at the UC.
Mark: Tough to get a read on this team, especially after this week's roller coaster.
12
Tony: Ugly, ugly, ugly loss in Chi. Should be knocked out of Top 15 for that.
Mark: Quietly have won six in a row and are back in the playoff mix.
13
Tony: Asik has slowed down a bit. Growing weary with starter's minutes?
Mark: 58 points. In a game. Erm. Moving on.
14
Tony: Sullinger is looking like Boston's savior right now.
Mark: How good was Wes Matthews in the final minute against the Heat? Real good.
15
Tony: Man, can they fill up the stat sheet. Well, the starters can, at least.
Mark: The NBA's highest scoring team continues to move right along.
16
Tony: If only they played the Bulls every game...
Mark: Solid win over Miami last night as they fight for the last playoff seed.
17
Tony: They need Mighty Mo back.
Mark: John Henson is going to be a player in the NBA.
18
Tony: Injuries just sinking this season for 'Wolves.
Mark: Still haven't given up hope, but wow, what a disappointment.
19
Tony: It's getting pretty late. Do they have time to turn things around?
Mark: Good news for Andrew Bynum! All-Star center could be back at the All-Starb break.
20
Tony: Is this their true form or just a bad slump?
Mark: The wheels are coming off without Kevin Love, and Rubio still isn't near 100 percent.
21
Tony: Have quietly won 7 of 10.
Mark: A big fan of the Lowry-Calderon point guard duo. Will the latter be dealt?
22
Tony: Mark Cuban's gonna do somethin' crazy in second half.
Mark: They've won 7 of their last 10, including W's over Miami and Atlanta.
23
Tony: Lowry and Calderon co-existing experiment going just OK.
Mark: Dirk's return hasn't meant much to Dallas, which still sits 5.0 games back of final playoff spot.
24
Tony: Cousins has been another player altogether since suspension.
Mark: Isaiah Thomas back in the starting lineup and playing well.
25
Tony: Hey! They picked up a win on the road!
Mark: Worst record in the West, but defense has played well all year.
26
Tony: Gordon, Vasquez playing well alongside each other.
Mark: Glen Davis back in the rotation will help, but they've dropped nine of 10.
27
Tony: Have lost 9 of 10 and 5 straight.
Mark: 2-8 in their last 10, but a home win against the Bulls was nice.
28
Tony: Man, they won 3 in a row?? Completely different team with Wall back.
Mark: The Wizards have won two straight since John Wall returned. Baby steps.
29
Tony: Get the nod over CHA because they're only on 3-gm losing streak.
Mark: Nice to see Dion Waiters break out of a funk with a career-high 33 points on Monday.
30
Tony: Things have gotten downright ugly in Charlotte yet again.
Mark: Very little (if any) improvement from this team, despite "increase in wins".

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Reaction to Zach LaVine's comments after 10th straight loss

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NBC Sports Chicago

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Reaction to Zach LaVine's comments after 10th straight loss

Matt Peck, David Watson and John Sabine feel the Heat after Dwyane Wade and Co. hand the Bulls their 10th straight defeat. Plus, they react to LaVine's comments on the state of the Bulls (1:30), how they feel about stars speaking out (4:55) and Matt wants a new coach next season (6:48).
How can the Bulls attract free agents to this losing culture to improve on their young core (11:35)? Plus, why does it feel like the Bulls get more criticism than the Knicks (16:02)?

The big story was D-Wade's farewell game at the United Center. Watson explains why he's pro-Wade (18:30). Peck provides the rebuttal (19:29). Finally, Watson notes that Markkanen may be struggling to find chemistry with Kris Dunn (25:10).

Don't forget, you can watch Bulls Outsiders after Bulls Postgame Live on NBC Sports Chicago following every game. You can also stream the show on Facebook Live and interact with Matt, John and David.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Kris Dunn's midrange game has disappeared, and that's spelled disaster for his overall game

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USA TODAY

Kris Dunn's midrange game has disappeared, and that's spelled disaster for his overall game

No player was happier to return home from the Bulls' 0-5 West Coast road trip that Kris Dunn.

Dunn began the trip with a nice 15-point, seven-assist performance in Portland but was a disaster in the remaining four games, averaging 7.0 points on 31.4 percent shooting and 5.0 assists.

But his struggles continued on Wednesday night against a tough Miami Heat defense. Dunn started strong but disappeared after the first quarter, finishing with 6 points on 3 of 14 shooting and 5 assists in 33 minutes. The scoring output marked the fourth time in the last five games he's scored 6 points and the shooting was his worst of the year.

"Definitely going through it," Dunn said after the game. "It's part of the NBA. It's on me to find a way to get out of it. I feel like I'm getting to my spots and it's just not knocking down right now."

Dunn is getting to his spots, but that also might be part of the problem. In his first 13 games back from a sprained MCL he averaged 14.2 points on 50 percent shooting. That included 54 percent shooting on shots 8 to 16 feet away, per NBA.com. That number led the Bulls and was actually fourth in the NBA among players attempting at least 2 of those shots per game (Gay, Clarkson, McConnell were ahead of him) and ahead of players like Kyrie Irving (51.8%), Donovan Mitchell (50%) and Derrick Rose (49%).

But since that West Coast trip began Dunn has hit a wall on those shots. He's made just 30 percent of those attempts, 56th best among those with 2 or more attempts per game. It's only a five-game sample size, compared to 13 when that shot was falling, but the larger issue is that Dunn relies so heavily on them.

Among qualified full-time starting point guards, Dunn's 1.4 3-point attempts per game are second fewest. Only Ben Simmons, who hasn't attempted a 3-pointer this year, is behind Dunn.

And among those same point guards, Dunn's 1.7 free throw attempts per game are fourth fewest. Only De'Anthony Melton, Lonzo Ball and Bryn Forbes have attempted fewer per game than Dunn.

His midrange field goal percentage was eventually going to regress. He's always looked comfortable on those floaters and stepback 12-to-15 footers, but even last year he made just 39.3 percent of those 8 to 16 foot shots. That 54 percent clip was unsustainable, and when Dunn doesn't have that going he really isn't a threat to score anywhere else on the floor.

He's averaging a team-best 13.8 drives per game, per NBA.com, which is also 14th in the NBA and puts him in the same company as players like Jeff Teague and Chris Paul. He's ahead of players such as Mike Conley, De'Aaron Fox and Damian Lillard, so aggressiveness hasn't been the issue.

Dunn's midrange shot has abandoned him, and yet he hasn't been to the free throw line in his last 81 game minutes spanning two-plus games. His last attempts came with 3 minutes left in the second quarter against the Lakers. He's also attempted just four 3-pointers (going 1-for-4) in his last 170 minutes spanning five games; in Saturday night's loss Heat guard Tyler Johnson attempted four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter (and made three of them).

He quite simply isn't a versatile scoring threat, and his one trick has disappeared. This wouldn't be as big an issue if Dunn were an exceptional passer, facilitating the offense and finding open shooters. And while Dunn certainly has had some nice passing nights - and he's inside the top 20 in assists per game despite playing in an offense without a ton of shooters -  it hasn't been nearly enough to overcome his scoring woes.

Life in today's NBA means getting scoring from the point guard position, and Dunn is failing in that regard. Perhaps his midrange touch will find itself, but the more likely scenario is Dunn needing to be more aggressive on all those drives he's taking, getting to the free throw line more and initiating some of the action on his own.

It's unlikely he'll ever become a reliable source of 3-point shooting - he's down to 32.1 percent from deep this season, same as last - but even some improvement in that area will go a long way.

"He knows he can play better. He wants to play better," Jim Boylen said after Saturday's loss. "He takes ownership of his play. That’s one thing I like about him. We gotta keep supporting him, we gotta keep coaching him. That’s what this is all about."