NBA Power Rankings: James Harden, Rockets get back on track


NBA Power Rankings: James Harden, Rockets get back on track

Week 2 of the NBA season is in the books, and we know this will come a surprise but the Golden State Warriors are the league's only undefeated team.

The bigger surprise was the team without a win in last week's rankings, the Houston Rockets. James Harden's group became the first team in NBA history to lose their first three games by 20+ points, signaling perhaps a serious chink in the title contender's armor. But that's why teams play more than three games in a season. Houston rebounded in a big way this week, and it has them back in the top five of this week's power rankings. See where the other 29 teams rank heading into the season's third week.

Previous power rankings: Preseason | Week 1

Rank (LW) Team
Record Comment
1 (1) (7-0) The NBA's last remaining unbeaten has a point differential of +18.3 points per game. Next best? Cleveland and San Antonio at +9.3.
(4) (6-1) Winners in six straight, LeBron and the Cavs are rolling...with Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert on the sidelines.
(5) (4-2)  Kawhi Leonard (21.8 points, 8.3 rebounds) has taken the reins of and run with the lead dog role in San Antonio.
4 (11) (7-1)  Seven straight wins, with their only loss coming against the Pistons on opening night. Kent Bazemore has stepped up in DeMarre Carroll's absence.
5 (13) (4-3)  That's more like it. In four straight wins, James Harden has averaged 38.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists.
6 (3) (4-2)  One or two possessions away from beating Golden State and Houston this past week. Not bad for those to be your only two blemishes.
7 (10) (5-1)  Andre Drummond is an early-season MVP candidate (not named Steph Curry). He's averaging 20.3 points and 20.3 rebounds for the league's biggest surprise.
8 (2) (4-3)  Three straight L's before topping Suns on Sunday, but still second in offensive efficiency. Durant and Westbrook still figuring out how to best complement each other.
9 (6) (5-2)  Road win over the Thunder? Good. Road losses to Orlando and a 20-point loss to Miami? Not so good. Still, a solid start north of the border.
10 (12) (4-2)  Their NBA-best defense hasn't skipped a beat since the second half of last season. They're just fine picking up wins in old-school fashion.
11 (9) (4-3)  A road win over the Pacers would have been nice, but they responded with a dominant performance against the Raptors.
12 (7) (4-3)  The roller coaster continues for Chicago, with an impressive win over Oklahoma City sandwiched between confusing losses to Charlotte and Minnesota.
13 (14) (3-3)  They began the week with an impressive home win over the Spurs, but followed it with blowout losses against Boston and Atlanta.
14 (15) (3-3)  Staying afloat in the West while Chandler Parsons ramps up his minutes will do the Mavs just fine. Dwight Powell (11.3 points, 8.0 rebounds) has been a nice surprise.
15 (15) (3-3)  Three of their four losses have come to contenders, but they've lost those four games by an average of 27.3 points. Odd start for the Griz.
16 (22) (3-4)  Maybe premature to have them this high, but they were arguably this past week's most impressive team that doesn't play in the Bay Area.
17 (19) (4-3)  Four straight wins came against teams with a combined 3-24 record (BRK x2, NYK, PHI). Let's wait and see if they can keep it going.
18 (18) (2-3)  Quiet start for the Celtics, though an impressive win against the Raptors could jumpstart things.
19 (23) (3-4)  Don't be surprised to see Orlando in the hunt for a playoff spot. Scott Skiles has the young Magic playing competitive basketball. The talent is there.
20 (26) (4-3)  Credit to Terry Stotts for replacing four of five starters and beginning the year like this, Sunday night's home collapse against Detroit notwithstanding.
21 (16) (3-4)  It's early, but Tyson Chandler hasn't been the difference maker defensively we're used to seeing. Phoenix ranks 17th in efficiency, same as they did a year ago.
22 (21) (3-4)  Kristaps Porzingis hasn't looked like a rookie, averaging 12.3 points and 8.6 rebounds in just 24.3 minutes per game. Also averaging 1.3 blocks and 1.3 steals.
23 (24) (3-2)  Karl-Anthony Towns has been every bit as good as advertised, and Andrew Wiggins scoring 31 on Jimmy Butler in a road win over the Bulls was an eye opener.
24 (25) (2-4)  Could be higher on these rankings, as they tout the NBA's fourth most efficient offense after ranking 28th in that category a year ago.
25 (27) (2-4)  Great to see Kenneth Faried balling again. The Manimal exploded for 28 and 15 in a win over the Lakers.
26 (20) (1-5)  Tough schedule made tougher with DeMarcus Cousins out of the lineup. Willie Cauley-Stein has been a bright spot early.
27 (17) (0-6)  Mind-boggling to see Anthony Davis' team rank last in the NBA in defensive efficiency (111.9). Worst possible start for Alvin Gentry.
28 (29) (1-6)  Kobe Bryant is ranked 125th of 126 qualified players in FG% (32.0%). And he's 21st in field goal attempts (16.2). That is....not good.
29 (30) (0-6)  Jahlil Okafor has struggled mightily on the defensive end. Still, he's everything we thought he'd be as a scorer (19.7 points, 52.7% FG).
30 (28) (0-7)  Danny Ainge and the Celtics must be salivating watching the Nets flounder (Brooklyn owes Boston its unprotected 2016 first round pick).

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Zach LaVine gets no respect

NBC Sports Chicago

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Zach LaVine gets no respect

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, Dave Watson, and John Sabine react to the week in the NBA and ‘list’ season.

1:45 - On Sports Illustrated top 100 NBA players list and the Bulls players, LaVine disrespect

13:10 - Which recent draft class would have the best starting five?

22:30 - Would Iman Shumpert be a good fit for the Bulls?

32:55 - Matt Peck goes on a rant that involves Wade+Melo

34:45 - Dave gives his top 5 PG’s of all-time

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

NBA G League to introduce new, $100K prize tournament


NBA G League to introduce new, $100K prize tournament

The NBA G League is introducing a new tournament format for their premier showcase games, starting in the 2019-20 season. 

The 2019 NBA G League Winter Showcase will take place December 19-22 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center and it will feature all 28 teams in the league, with the winning squad taking home a $100,000 prize. 

Under the re-brand, the NBA G League Winter Showcase will see the teams seeded No. 1 through 28, with the top four seeds receiving a bye and advancing straight to the Championship Bracket. The remaining 24 teams will get placed into six separate four-team brackets. All games played at the Winter Showcase will count against G League regular-season records.

For a league full of players fighting for NBA attention and ultimately, (NBA) dollars, the $100,000 prize is sure to add a decent amount of motivation. Last season more than 60 players received Gatorade call-ups (to the NBA) during or right after the showcase games. 

The Bulls know quite a bit about the talent that can be found at the NBA G League Winter Showcase.

Last season the Bulls signed guard Brandon Sampson to a Two-Way contract following a breakout performance at the 2018 G League Showcase for the Rio Grande Vipers.

Sampson averaged 17.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.0 assists through 18 G League games for the Vipers before signing his Two-Way deal with the Bulls and gaining 214 minutes of NBA experience over 14 games. 

The new tournament format for the Winter Showcase will make for an exciting spectacle to for hardcore basketball fans and will add a great layer of intrigue to what is already the best in-season scouting event for NBA scouts interested in the G League.