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NBA Power Rankings: Damian Lillard, Blazers continue to roll

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NBA Power Rankings: Damian Lillard, Blazers continue to roll

Apparently Damian Lillard isn't too happy about being snubbed for the All-Star Game a second consecutive year.

The Blazers' star point guard - and, yes, he is a star - came out of last week's break on a tear, dropping 51 points on Steph Curry and the defending champs. The Blazers won by 32, handing the Warriors their worst loss of the last two seasons.

Lillard's follow-up act? 30 points in a crucial victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday.

The Blazers have now won 14 of 17 games and sit seventh in the Western Conference. Barring something wild he won't win the award, but Terry Stotts deserves some consideration for Coach of the Year.

As expected, the Blazers are on their way up in this week's power 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 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16

Rank (LW) Team
Record Comment
1 (1) (49-5) Anderson Varejao signing with the Warriors could be a big boost for a team that doesn't really need anything but could use another big body inside while Festus Ezeli is sidelined.
(4) (40-14) A statement win in Oklahoma City for LeBron and co. With Kyrie Irving battling the flu, LeBron went for 25/7/11 while Kevin Love added 29 points and 11 boards. Cavs beginning to roll.
(3) (47-9) Blown out against the Clippers without Kawhi Leonard, but Spurs fans breathe a sigh of relief after Leonard's MRI on a sore calf comes back clean. They're still just three back of the Warriors.
4 (2) (40-16) The Thunder are 11th in defensive efficiency this season, but just 18th the last three weeks. Their juggernaut offense won't matter if they're giving up 100+ a night, which they've done in five of their last six.
5 (5) (36-18) A pair of ugly road losses as favorites to the Timberwolves and Bulls, but they rebounded nicely with a home win over the Grizzlies. They may not catch Cleveland, but they look like the East's second best squad.
6 (7) (36-19) It was fun to watch the Clips try and go big on the Warriors (DeAndre Jordan logged 37 minutes). And it sort of worked. Whether they can go that big when Blake Griffin returns, however, is another story.
7 (6) (33-24) The toughest team to figure out in the top 10, Boston appears to have all the pieces to contend in the East 
8 (10) (31-24) Hassan Whiteside is an absolute monster. After serving his suspension Friday in Miami's win over Atlanta, he went for 25 points and 23 rebounds in a 20-point win over Washington.
9 (12) (30-25) Hours after Kevin Durant proclaimed Paul George would one day be a Hall-of-Famer, George scored 22 points and handed out 10 assists in a road win over the Thunder. KD may be on to something.
10 (8) (32-23) They dealt Courtney Lee and Jeff Green in the wake of Marc Gasol's broken foot. They're still in the playoff race (currently No. 5) but that could change in the coming weeks. Dave Joerger has his work cut out for him.
11 (13) (29-27) Damian Lillard simply can't be stopped. Since his All-Star snub he's averaged 27.8 points and 8.1 assists in nine games. Oh, and the Blazers have won 14 of 17. Remarkable. He deserves MVP consideration.
12 (14) (29-26) Kemba Walker continued his All-Star-caliber season this past week, and he's averaged 26.2 points, 4.6 assists and 2.0 steals during the Hornets' five-game win streak. They're up to No. 7 in the East.
13 (11) (27-28) They follow up a seven-game win streak by losing three of four, though that one win was an important one over the Celtics. Their schedule gets very tough down the stretch, so they can't afford many slip-ups.
14 (9) (31-26) It's just impossible trying to figure this team out. What is clear is their struggles are very real after dropping three straight at home, including giving up 117 points to the Bucks on Sunday.
15 (18) (29-26) A big home win over the Raptors stopped the bleeding after losing 13 of 18 games. If they can just hang on until Jimmy Butler returns in a few weeks they should be OK for a playoff spot. But Detroit and Washington won't go away easy.
16 (15) (30-27) It's good to see David Lee latch on with the Mavs after he was cut by the Celtics. Whether he really gets a chance to play is another question, but he's a good locker room guy who should help Dallas' playoff push.
17 (19) (25-29) Picking up Markieff Morris could help them make a late push for the final playoff spot in the East, but they need to start winning at home; they're the only top 10 team in the East standings with a losing home record (13-16).
18 (20) (22-33) If you haven't gone and watched highlights of Anthony Davis' 59-point, 20-rebound game Sunday against the Pistons, go do so. In this writer's opinion, Brow is the game's best center.
19 (16) (28-28) Could be the most important week of the year for them, playing at Utah and Portland and then home against the Spurs. Houston, No. 8 in the West, is one game behind Portland and half-a-game up on Utah.
20 (17) (27-29) Ouch. Five straight losses, including three to sub-.500 teams, have them now 2.5 games behind the Bulls for the final playoff spot in the East. Tobias Harris needs to acclimate quick before it's too late.
21 (21) (23-31) It would have been interesting to see them go for it in trading for Pau Gasol, but the right move was to keep your young assets (McLemore, Casspi) and hold out hope that they retain their first round pick (top 10 protected).
22 (23) (23-33) There you go, Jabari Parker. The sophomore has averaged 22.7 points on 55 percent shooting and 11 rebounds in his last three games. Would be great to see him turn a corner in this, a lost season for the Bucks.
23 (22) (22-34) Safe to assume Blake Griffin was never really on the table in trade talks with the Nuggets. But that would have been something else to watch Denver build around Griffin.
24 (25) (24-30) Brandon Jennings has been great in Orlando thus far, totaling 30 points and 11 assists in two games with the Magic. And it's all sorts of awesome that he decided to wear No. 55, an homage to his double-nickel game.
25 (24) (17-39) It'd be nice to see Zach LaVine show some consistency off the ball in these final two months. He's scored in double figures in 11 straight games, averaging 17.6 points per game in that span.
26 (26) (24-33) Jimmer Fredette inked a 10-day contract with the Knicks, and while it won't mean much for their prospects this season, between Jimmer and Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks won't be lacking in excitement.
27 (27) (8-47) Trade rumors and porous defense aside, Jahlil Okafor's monster 31-point, eight-rebound effort was a reminder of just how dominant the 20-year-old can be and will be down the line.
28 (28) (15-41) Interesting decision not to deal one or both of Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez at the trade deadline. But with Sean Marks in as general manager, things are moving in the right direction (albeit very slowly).
29 (29) (11-46) Just read CSN's Kobe coverage on his final game Chicago. And why it was such a special night for his longtime friend and former teammate Pau Gasol.
30 (30) (14-42) Fourteen straight losses is almost unfathomable for a team picked by many to contend for a playoff spot this year. At least they did the right thing and dealt Markieff Morris at the trade deadline. It's a start.

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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