Bulls

NBA Power Rankings: Cousins, Kings heading north in the West

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NBA Power Rankings: Cousins, Kings heading north in the West

For all the turmoil the Sacramento Kings have been through in the last 16 months, it's incredible they find themselves in this position.

Questions about arena funding, firing Mike Malone, contemplating trading DeMarcus Cousins, swinging and missing on every free agent, head coach George Karl feuding with Cousins via emojis on Twitter...the Kings were a mess.

And yet, here they are in the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference after winning five straight games.

Free agent acquisition Rajon Rondo has been a godsend for Karl's squad, averaging 11.7 points and an NBA-best 11.6 assists per game. Cousins has taken his game to the next level and should earn his second consecutive All-Star berth. Rudy Gay continues to be a model of consistency while guys like Omri Casspi, Marco Belinelli and Ben McLemore have played a stellar supporting cast.

They peaked this week with three straight wins (five straight overall), knocking off the Lakers on the road before impressive home wins over Atlanta and Indiana.

Rondo and Cousins led the charge. Rondo averaged 11.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 12.7 assists in the three wins, while Cousins exploded for 48 points against the Pacers, averaging 36.0 points per game this week.

They're rolling right now, and if they decide to be buyers at the trade deadline (Ryan Anderson?) we could see the Kings, miraculously, in the postseason.

On to the rankings:

Previous power rankings: Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12

Rank (LW) Team
Record Comment
1 (2) (40-4) Back to the top spot they go. After losing two of three, they beat the Bulls and Cavs by a combined 65 points....both on the road. Then they stomp the Pacers.
(1) (38-6) The win streak now reaches an NBA-best 13 games, but they'll get their biggest test of the year when they travel to Oracle Arena tonight. Likely Western Conference Finals preview.
(3) (33-13)

A perplexing loss to the Nets on Sunday night doesn't change the fact that they had won seven straight and look like contenders. The West may be a three-team race after all.

4 (6) (29-15) The hottest team in the East has won eight straight, the last of which came in dominating fashion over the Clippers. DeMar DeRozan should make his second All-Star team.
5 (4) (30-12) Has a team 18 games over .500 with an All-Star starter that won their conference the previous year ever had more drama than this Cavs team? Tyronn Lue has his work cut out.
6 (5) (28-16) Not having Blake Griffin around is starting to show, as they suffered big losses to the top two teams in the East, Cleveland and Toronto, this week.
7 (9) (25-20) The road loss to Minnesota notwithstanding, they're up to No. 5 in the West with a very favorable schedule upcoming in February.
8 (7) (26-19) Consistency a real issue, as they've gone L2, W2, L2, W3, L2 in their last 11 games. Jeff Teague has struggled mightily and was benched for Dennis Schroder in Thursday's loss to the Kings.
9 (12) (25-18) Don't hurt yourself trying to figure out this Bulls team. Losers in six of eight, they go wire-to-wire in Cleveland to beat the Cavaliers. They're 2-0 against LeBron and 1-2 against Charlotte.
10 (8) (23-21) Still plenty to like about this improving Pistons team, but losing three of four after shellacking the Warriors isn't exactly how momentum works in this league.
11 (10) (24-22) They trailed by eight Sunday against the Mavericks but used a huge second half to top the Mavericks. Trevor Ariza and James Harden combined for 52 points.
12 (14) (25-21) Their last five losses are against Cleveland, OKC, San Antonio, OKC and Houston. Nothing wrong with those L's, but at some point you want to prove you can beat the top contenders.
13 (13) (24-21) It'll be a shame if Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas is left off the East All-Star squad. Meanwhile, Boston has now won five of seven since a four-game skid earlier this month.
14 (16) (20-21)  A tough upcoming slate includes five of the next six against winning-record teams. If they can get through that stretch 3-3 or better they'd take some real momentum into the second half of the season.
15 (11) (23-21) They've now inexplicably lost eight of 10, and during their current four-game slide have averaged 80.3 points. And they're banged up heading to Chicago, where they desperately could use a win.
16 (19) (20-23) DeMarcus Cousins' 48-point outing against Indiana was the highlight of a perfect week for the Kings, who now sit in the No. 8 seed in the West. Rajon Rondo has been a perfect fit, too.
17 (15) (23-21) Though the Pacers are struggling, it's worth noting here that Paul George being named an All-Star starter is great to see after his devastating leg injury two years ago. 
18 (23) (20-26) They may not sneak into the playoffs this year, but Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are a hell of a backcourt tandem for the future. They combined for 66 in a win over the Lakers on Saturday.
19 (17) (22-24) Getting back to .500 with a win over the Jazz was nice; a 28-point home loss to Los Angeles and a 13-point loss in Charlotte to follow it up was not.
20 (24) (16-27) There's the MVP-like Anthony Davis. He won't win it this year, but his averages of 26.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in his last six are the numbers we expected all year. The Pellies have won five of those six.
21 (25) (21-23) What a week for Kemba Walker, who goes for a career-high 52 points on Monday and averages 34.8 points in his four games. Even better, the Hornets went 3-1 in those contests to break their disastrous January skid.
22 (22) (17-27) Their last 13 games have been decided by seven points or less. They're just 5-8 in those games, but they continue to improve under Mike Malone. Will Barton for Sixth Man of the Year?
23 (18) (19-24) They've lost four of five and have been supplanted by Sacramento for the last playoff spot in the West. They desperately need to get back Derrick Favors, who now has missed 16 straight games with back spasms.
24 (21) (19-27) They certainly look better than they did a month ago, but they're still 13th in the East and five games out of the last playoff spot. Will take quite a bit for them to get back in the playoff hunt.
25 (20) (20-22) They've now lost nine of 10, and 12 of their next 14 games come against teams currently with .500 or better win percentages. This thing could get ugly in a hurry.
26 (27) (14-31) It's a shame the Timberwolves haven't been better this season or we'd be talking more about Karl-Anthony Towns, who's averaging 15.8 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. KAT is ROY.
27 (29) (6-39)  They're 5-9 since Dec. 27. Those five wins are more than the Suns, Bets, Magic, Timberwolves or Lakers have had in that span. Baby steps trying to get out of the NBA's cellar.
28 (26) (12-32) The Nets would be wise to go snag one of Tom Thibodeau or David Blatt for their head coaching vacancy. The personnel may take awhile to turn over, but either would be great at the helm.
29 (30) (14-31) Archie Goodwin's buzzer-beating 3-pointer to top the Hawks stopped a six-game losing streak. Another Kentucky alum, rookie Devin Booker, continues to improve in extended minutes.
30 (28) (6-38) Since that three-game-ray-of-hope win streak the Lakers have lost 10 of 11, including six straight. At least we got to celebrate the anniversary of Kobe's 81-point performance last week.

NBA Board of Governors pass new, stricter anti-tampering rules

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USA TODAY

NBA Board of Governors pass new, stricter anti-tampering rules

After much discussion over whether or not the NBA should impose harsher penalties on teams for breaking the anti-tampering rules, an official decision has been made. The NBA Board of Governors passed a much more strict set of rules that will force teams to be compliant with the anti-tampering rules.

Among the new measures, the league will be selecting five teams per year that will undergo a "random audit", the maximum amount for a fine related to tampering has been raised to $10 million and team officials are required to save communications with agents for one full year.

The league will also retain the right to take the communication devices of owners if it is deemed necessary in investigations, though it has been stated that it is not something that Adam Silver wants to rely on moving forward. 

Though concrete details have not been released, possible punishments for tampering will reportedly include taking away draft picks, the voiding of contracts and more.

This is all in an attempt to create a more "even playing field" amid the belief that small-market teams are at a disadvantage when it comes to player movement. The new rules sound great but there is already fear among NBA GMs when it comes to how their privacy will be affected with this being a clear area of focus for the league. 

Along with the new, harsher tampering penalties, the league also announced that they have changed the language regarding traveling calls to "address the uncertainty around traveling." Another new rule announced was that teams are now required to announce their starting lineups at least 30 minutes before tipoff as opposed to 10 minutes, in an effort to "increase transparency for teams, media and fans." Teams will still be allowed to change their lineups up to the last minute if a player gets hurt in pregame warmups. 

All of the new anti-tampering rules approved by the league on Friday were a response to this wild NBA offseason we just experienced. There were many deals agreed to right at the start of free agency, such as the Bulls with Thaddeus Young, and the timing of those deals had many owners wanting the league to make tampering a greater focus. To a greater extent, moves like Anthony Davis forcing his way to the Lakers and Kawhi Leonard orchestrating he and Paul George's move to the Clippers are what got this package of anti-tampering measures passed.

Adam Silver has picked up a reputation as an NBA Commissioner who is very willing to listen to new ideas and make changes, and Friday's events support that reputation as he and the league continue to look for the best ways to get NBA teams to be in compliance with the anti-tampering rules. 

Is Ryan Arcidiacono trying to become the fourth Jonas Brother?

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USA TODAY

Is Ryan Arcidiacono trying to become the fourth Jonas Brother?

The Jonas Brothers are in Chicago for concerts that are taking place on Thursday and Friday night, and they have enjoyed quite a week. This week the trio has enjoyed a nice golf outing at Village Links in Glen Ellyn, had some quality BBQ at Bub City and even got the amazing opportunity to play a touch football game at Soldier Field. But one particular Bulls guard is looking to add another fun experience to their Chicago trip.

The Bulls organization welcomed the Jonas Brothers to the city with a set of custom jerseys for the trio and their significant others and that's when Ryan Arcidiacono chimed in with his offer. 

Since the Jonas Brothers have already got to play some football on the actual Soldier Field grass, Arci figured they might as well keep the Chicago sports-themed fun going and shoot some hoops with him. 

Now, Arcidiacono didn't make it clear whether or not he was offering for the Jonas Brother to get some shots up with him at the United Center, where their shows take place on Thursday and Friday night. But, either way, his time is running out as they will be moving on to Jackson County, MO for their next stop on tour on September 21.

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