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NBA Power Rankings: Drummond, Pistons sprint out of the gates

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NBA Power Rankings: Drummond, Pistons sprint out of the gates

Yes, we're six calendar days into the season, which can only mean the hot-take cannon is locked and loaded. The truth is doing power rankings this early in the season is a little unfair, as sample sizes are much too small to tell what's for real and what's not.

That being said, teams like the Warriors, Pistons and (for the wrong reasons) Rockets all made statements with their play. We'll have a better idea in a few weeks about these rankings, but as we're rolling these out every Monday this is all we've got to go on for now.

Previous power rankings: Preseason |

Rank (LW) Team
Record Comment
1 (1)
(3-0) Steph Curry (39.3 PPG) couldn't have started hotter for the defending champs, and has fourth most points in NBA history to begin a season.
(4) (3-0) Both Westbrook (32.0) and Durant (30.0) are averaging 30+ points per game. So far, so good. (Last week: 4)
(6) (3-0)  Easy schedule to open things up but they took care of business, and Blake Griffin hasn't slowed down after last year's playoffs.
4 (2) (2-1)  They've looked the part - especially Kevin Love (19.7 points, 11.7 rebounds) - after an opening night hiccup in Chicago.
5 (3) (2-1)  They had Oklahoma City on the ropes opening night, and LaMarcus Aldridge is still in the feeling out process with his new team.
6 (13) (3-0)  DeMarre Carroll is fitting in just fine in Toronto, helping the Raptors to the No. 7 defense through the season's first week.
7 (9) (3-1)  Nikola Mirotic was made for Fred Hoiberg's offense, but it's been the Bulls defense earning them victories in the early going.
8 (8) (2-1)  Ran into the Cleveland buzz saw on opening night but responded with two wins, scoring 100+ points in both.
9 (10) (2-1)  Their offense is rolling - No. 4 in efficiency - behind a healthy and energetic Dwyane Wade (21.7 points, 5.3 assists).
10 (23) (3-0)  Andre Drummond is playing like an All-Star, and Marcus Morris (19.3 points, 7.7 rebounds) has been a welcome addition to the league's biggest surprise in Week 1.
11 (7) (3-1)  Al Horford is 5-for-18 from beyond the arc in four games this season. He attempted 36 triples in 76 games a year ago.
12 (19) (2-1)  Impressive starts for Derrick Favors (21.3 points, 8.3 rebounds) and Rodney Hood (15.3 points). They lead the NBA in defensive efficiency through one week.
13 (5) (0-3)  Yikes. The first team in NBA history to lose their first three games by 20+ points. James Harden is shooting 9 percent from deep. Nine. Percent.
14 (12) (2-1)  John Wall is 10th in the NBA in assists per game (6.7) and 8th in blocks per game (2.7). Yeah.
15 (15) (2-1)  Wesley Matthews tore his Achilles less than 8 months ago and is already logging 26 minutes a night (while sitting out a back-to-back). Just remarkable.
16 (16) (2-1)  Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight are off to hot starts, but Markieff Morris or T.J. Warren must step up as a third scorer to give the Suns a chance.
17 (11) (0-3)  They're as banged up as any team in the league, and a pair of games against the Warriors in the first week didn't ease any pain.
18 (17) (1-2)  Not a great start as Brad Stevens continues looking for ways to efficiently divide up frontcourt minutes.
19 (14) (0-3)  The Bucks were the second most efficient defense in the NBA last year. In three games this season, they're allowing a league-worst 117.1 points per 100 possessions.
20 (25) (1-2)  They hung with the Clippers twice (both losses) and embarrassed the Lakers. Odd week for them, but the talent around DeMarcus Cousins is improving (he is, too).
21 (27) (2-1)  It hasn't looked pretty, but wins against two playoff teams from a year ago is a solid way to begin the year for Carmelo and Co.
22 (18) (0-3)  Wait for Paul George to knock off some rust and Monta Ellis to mesh. Indiana will be fine. George Hill's bleached hair will never be.
23 (24) (0-3)  They've looked REALLY good for a winless team, nearly beating the Wizards (lost by 1), Thunder (lost by 3 in 2OT) and Bulls (lost by 5). Their time is coming.
24 (29) (2-0)  The Timberwolves are one of four teams ranked in the top-10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The other three? The Clippers, Cavs and Raptors.
25 (20) (0-3)  Their top four scorers are shooting a combined 40.5 percent. Not a great start for MJ's squad, though they hung tough in a pair of losses to the Hawks.
26 (21) (1-2)  Chalk up C.J. McCollum as the biggest surprise of the week. The shooting guard averaged 22.7 points in three games, including 37 on opening night.
27 (26) (1-2)  The Nuggets are going to let Emmanuel Mudiay work through his early struggles. He has 20 turnovers but is also averaging 30 minutes in three games.
28 (22)   (0-3)  Second worst point differential, but opening with Chicago, San Antonio and Memphis was no gift from the scheduling gods.
29 (28) (0-3)  Kobe is 16-for-51 to begin the year, which sums up the Lakers' start. The good news? Julius Randle (13.3 points, 9.3 rebounds) has looked stellar.
30 (30)   (0-2)  Jahlil Okafor has looked the part in two games, averaging 18.0 points and 6.5 rebounds. Maybe he and Nerlens Noel can co-exist.

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski sits down with Kendall Gill and Will Perdue to discuss all the need-to-know topics to get you ready for the season opener. The guys analyze how Lauri’s injury will make its mark on the early season rotation, whether Jabari will return to the starting unit or embrace the 6th-man role and why Portis betting on himself is the right move. Plus, Kendall has the key to unlock a “6th Man of the Year” award for Portis this season.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

'Underdog' Tyler Ulis will fit in just fine with these Bulls

'Underdog' Tyler Ulis will fit in just fine with these Bulls

It's been a whirlwind of a summer for point guard Tyler Ulis, but he finally feels like he's found a home. Literally.

The 5-foot-9 point guard was cut by the Suns in late June, latched on with a training camp invite by the Warriors and was subsequently waived on Friday. It was then that Ulis, working out in California, received a call from his agent. He had been claimed on waivers by the Chicago Bulls. His hometown Bulls.

"I grew up watching (the Bulls)," he said after his first practice on Tuesday. "Growing up in this city, you always want to be a Bull and you’re always willing and hoping that you’ll be here one day...I'm home now. It's a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to it."

Ulis is back in Chicago for the first time since he was breaking records for Marian Catholic High School. Ulis became a five-star recruit for the Spartans and in 2014 signed on as the next point guard in the long line of successful floor generals under John Calipari and Kentucky.

Ulis backed up the Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, as a freshman but saw his role increase as a sophomore. He blossomed, earning Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the SEC. Only Anthony Davis had ever earned both honors in a single season.

He declared for the 2016 NBA Draft with hopes of becoming a first-round pick. But unlike the Calipari point guards before him, Ulis slipped all the way down to the second round before the Phoenix Suns scooped him up with the 34th pick.

"Honestly I really did think (the Bulls) were going to draft me," Ulis said on Tuesday when recalling the 2016 NBA Draft. The Bulls took Denzel Valentine with the 14th pick. "But I'm here now so that's all that matters."

In 132 games, Ulis averaged 7.6 points and 4.1 assists in 21.1 minutes. He started 58 of those games, and while his shooting left plenty to be desired he handled the offense well and brought that same pesky defense he showed off at Kentucky. It wasn't enough, even for the guard-deprived Suns. They released Ulis before free agency this summer - which ruffled the feathers of franchise guard Devin Booker - in a rather unexpected move.

"My Mom always taught me (to) never expect anything," Ulis said of his release from the Suns. "When you're on a losing team like that anything can happen. I feel like I showed I could play at this level but they went a different way."

The Suns' loss - they may resort to starting 38-year-old Jamal Crawford at point guard this year - could be the Bulls' gain. Expectations should be harnessed for Ulis, especially with him joining the roster this late in the preseason, but the Bulls, like Phoenix, have question marks at the point.

Kris Dunn is entrenched as the starter, but Cameron Payne struggled mightily in the preseason and Ryan Arcidiacono doesn't project as a contributor. That leaves an opening for Ulis to potentially fill on the second unit, and apparently he's making a statement early in practice.

"Tyler had a real good practice," Fred Hoiberg said. "I think I think he changes the pace when he’s out there on the floor. He picks up full-court, he gets up underneath you. He can make a shot. He’s got good vision and can make a play with the ball in his hand. So I was very impressed with his first workout."

Ulis is working on a 45-day two-way contract, so it's unknown how much he'll contribute. He could be shuttled back and forth between Chicago and the Windy City Bulls, but there's certainly an opportunity for him to stick. He'll be playing catch-up and learning on the go, but doing so in his hometown wth friends and family around him for support will work to his advantage.

"Being a smaller guard growing up in a big man’s sport, you get looked over. So I’m the underdog," he said. "And I feel like this team is an underdog, so we should all be excited to get the season started and prove people wrong."