Bulls

NBA Power Rankings: Draymond Green pacing the Warriors

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NBA Power Rankings: Draymond Green pacing the Warriors

The Warriors never really were in serious doubt with Stephen Curry out of the lineup.

Though the reigning MVP missed two games the talk was more of how it may jeopardize the team's chase for 73 wins than anything.

But Curry's time off also paved the way for Draymond Green to take his game to another level. The Michigan State product continues to improve after finishing runner-up to Jimmy Butler for Most Improved Player a season ago, and he was at his best this week.

In four Warriors wins this week Green averaged 14.5 points, 12.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists. He added two more triple-doubles to his league-leading tally of eight. Though the Warriors are playing a brand of basketball and having success unlike any the NBA has ever seen, Green's individual play may be the most impressive of any on the team, Steph Curry included.

Consider his current averages of 15.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 7.4 assists. Since 1946, only seven players have maintained those averages (or better) over the course of an entire season, and it's been done 12 times by those players. Five are in the Basketball Hall of Fame: Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, John Havlicek, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson.

Taking it a step further, only two other players since 1974 (when blocks and steals were first officially recorded) have averaged at least seven assists, a block and a steal per game. LeBron James did it three times and Dwyane Wade did it twice. Green is currently averaging 1.3 steals and 1.4 blocks.

He's got a ways to go to finish the season with those numbers and join those players in such an exclusive club, but it's still worth noting that Green has been an absolute monster for the Warriors, ranked again atop this list.

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

Rank (LW) Team
Record Comment
1 (1) (35-2) Draymond Green has four triple-doubles in his last six games. That's more than Russell Westbrook has all year (three in 37 games). He'll get serious MVP consideration.
(2) (32-6) Six opponents have topped 100 points against the Spurs. Their defensive rating is 4.3 points better than No. 2 Boston. Oh, and they have the league's third most efficient offense.
(4) (26-9) The Cavaliers are 9-2 since Kyrie Irving returned to the lineup. But now the big tests come. Their next four games: at DAL, at SAS, at HOU, vs. GS. Buckle up.
4 (5) (25-13) Blake who? They've won nine straight (eight without Blake Griffin) and get the next three at home before a difficult road trip to finish January.
5 (3) (26-12) Sunday night's collapse in Portland notwithstanding, the Thunder are rolling. They're tops in offensive efficiency since Christmas Day.
6 (6) (23-15) Al Horford was a one-man wrecking crew in a 15-point win over the Bulls on Saturday. He went for 33 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four blocks in 36 minutes.
7 (8) (22-13) Jimmy Butler is averaging 28.6 points in his last six games while playing 39 minutes a night. He's making a strong case to start the All-Star Game.
8 (9) (24-15) Rolled past Philly and Brooklyn and in between earned a tough victory over John Wall and the Wizards. They've responded after debacles against the Bulls and Cavs.
9 (7) (22-15) They scored 90 and 83 points, respectively, in losses to New York and Utah last week. Not a good time to go cold heading to Golden State on Monday.
10 (13) (21-16) The roller coaster continues. After losing four of five, Stan Van Gundy's group reels off three straight wins, including a nice road victory in Boston.
11 (11) (22-16) Looking at the Mavs' roster and realizing they're 8th in offensive efficiency is really a credit to the job Rick Carlisle has done this year. They've won 7 of 10.
12 (18) (19-19) Trevor Ariza is finally heating up for the now-.500 Rockets. Since Christmas Day he's 20-for-43 from beyond the arc. He dropped 24 in an overtime win over the Pacers.
13 (10) (21-16) Paul George took just two of Indiana's shots in overtime against the Rockets (a loss). Tough to swallow after they led by 13 in the fourth quarter.
14 (17) (21-18) Mario Chalmers, starting in place of Mike Conley, hit two clutch 3-pointers down the stretch to finish a comeback win over the Celtics on Sunday.
15 (19) (19-20) A one-point loss to San Antonio was all that stood between the Knicks and a perfect week. Still, the wins came over Atlanta, Miami and Milwaukee. They're on the rise.
16 (12) (19-18) They seemed to be back on track, up 21 in the third (and nine in the fourth) against the Grizzlies on Sunday. They lost by three, giving them L's in five of six.
17 (15) (16-19) John Wall has taken his game to another level. In Bradley Beal's absence. He's averaged 20.9 points and 9.9 assists in his last eight games.
18 (14) (20-18) They've lost five of six and haven't beaten a team with a current winning record since Nov. 29 (Boston). Tough to figure out the Magic at this point.
19 (24) (15-22) DeMarcus Cousins has averaged 32.4 points and 13.0 rebounds in his last five, and the Kings are looking better each time out.
20 (22) (16-20) Getting Rudy Gobert back is huge, but Derrick Favors has now missed 10 straight games with back spasms. Utah's win over Miami was an impressive one.
21 (23) (16-24) Damian Lillard's theatrics in the fourth quarter Sunday to beat the Thunder were something else. Five of his eight triples came in the final 3 minutes.
22 (20) (15-24) Though Giannis Antetokounmpo still has his deficiencies, he's one of four players averaging 2.0+ assists, 1+ steal and 1+ block (Green, Millsap, Cousins). Good company.
23 (16) (17-20) Yes, the team once ranked in the top-5 of these power rankings now owns the longest current losing streak in the NBA (seven games). Not good at all.
24 (21) (11-25) Positive signs continue to flash at times, but the reality is they've still got the fifth worst net rating in the NBA. Going to be tough to make up ground in the West.
25 (27) (14-24) Emmanuel Mudiay returns and the Nuggets pick up a win over the Hornets. If nothing else, it's good to see the rook back from that nagging ankle injury.
26 (25) (12-26) They've lost 10 of 11 and haven't reached 100 points in any of those games. That's tough to do. Tougher to do? Giving up 109 to the Sixers in a loss.
27 (29) (13-26) They mercifully stopped a nine-game losing streak against the flailing Hornets after that rock-bottom loss to the Lakers.
28 (26) (10-27) GM Billy King has been reassigned and Lionel Hollins is out as head coacht. Good luck replacing either with the team stuck in purgatory the next few seasons.
29 (28) (8-30) There won't be many non-Kobe memories from this Lakers season, but Lou Williams' 44-point explosion against the Thunder will be one of them.
30 (30) (4-36) They've got a five-game cushion in the Ben Simmons Sweepstakes after double-digit losses to East powers Toronto, Atlanta and Cleveland.

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

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USA TODAY

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

The theme of the 2018-19 NBA season will be: “old faces in new places”. Like a season-long game of the NBA on TNT crew’s “Who he play for?” game, this year will be about fans trying to get used to the idea of LeBron James in purple (I won’t call it ‘Forum Blue’)-and-gold, DeMarcus Cousins being on a championship-contending franchise and Kawhi Leonard being the new face of Toronto.

The Warriors are still the easy favorite to make it four NBA championships in five years, but they will be tested perhaps more than any year before in a loaded Western Conference, where even the lowliest of teams (here’s to you Phoenix and Memphis!) made solid offseason moves geared towards winning games.

Over in the now-LeBron-less East, there is hope amongst at least four-to-five teams that they could actually have a shot to win the conference. The Pacers still have budding superstar Victor Oladipo, the Sixers still have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and the Raptors and Bucks made head coaching changes that could lead to deep playoff runs. But with the rest of the Eastern conference being stuck between lottery contention and middle of the pack, expect the half-experienced, half-youthful Celtics to takeover as East juggernaut.

But whether or not your favorite franchise is aiming for a high draft pick or a postseason berth, there is tons to be excited in a 2018-19 NBA season that will surely be an intriguing one. Check out Week 1 of our NBA Power Rankings right here.

Deadline passes as Bulls, Bobby Portis fail to reach agreement on contract extension

Deadline passes as Bulls, Bobby Portis fail to reach agreement on contract extension

The Bulls and Bobby Portis were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension by today’s deadline, which will make the power forward a restricted free agent next offseason.

According to The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson, Portis’ agent Mark Bartelstein and Gar Forman had “lengthy face-to-face negotiations” on Monday prior to the deadline. The two sides weren’t able to come to an agreement.

The negotiations – and lack of a deal – come after a summer and training camp in which Portis continued to show progression. After beginning the preseason coming off the bench Portis quickly played his way into the starting lineup alongside rookie Wendell Carter Jr. Portis finished five preseason games averaging 17.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals in just 22.4 minutes.

Portis, the 22nd pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, has seen his role increase each of his three seasons. He made a jump last season in Year 3, averaging 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in 22.5 minutes. He was one of three players, including DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Love, to average 21 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 3-pointers per 36 minutes.

Though the Bulls certainly had the room to sign Portis to an extension, there were obvious reasons on both sides to wait on a deal. For starters, the Bulls will still be able to match any deal Portis receives in free agency next July, much like what happened with Zach LaVine and the Sacramento Kings. The Bulls maintain their abundance of cap space for the 2019 offseason, when they’ll be able to offer a max contract to the top-tier free agents, and they get to see if Portis makes another jump.

For Portis, it’s a case of him betting on himself. If the Bulls came in with a number he wasn’t satisfied with – to help keep their max cap space – he now finds himself on a contract year playing for his next contract. Still only 23 years old, Portis should cash in in July.

Two players from Portis’ draft class were able to cash in. Pacers center Myles Turner signed a reported four-year, $80 million extension and Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. agreed to a four-year, $45 million deal. Portis likely would have fallen somewhere in between those two deals had an agreement occurred.

The Bulls are hardly in an easy situation with Portis. Though they value the versatile power forward, Lauri Markkanen is entrenched at the position for the foreseeable future and the team just spent last year’s No. 7 overall pick on center Wendell Carter Jr. Portis realistically is stuck behind both those players, though he certainly has starting level NBA talent.