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NBA Power Rankings: The league's other best team

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NBA Power Rankings: The league's other best team

The Golden State Warriors have rightfully hogged headlines this season. That'll happen when you're setting NBA records left and right before the calendar flips to the new year.

But just below Steph Curry's 26-1 team in the Western Conference standings are the San Antonio Spurs. At 23-5, winners of five straight and nine of 10, and a point differential (+13.2) nearly as good as Golden State's (+13.4), Greg Popovich's group is the best team in the NBA that doesn't play its home games in Oakland.

Kawhi Leonard has been nothing short of magnificent, averaging 21.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists on 50.9/49.0/88.0 shooting, while also adding two steals and nearly a block per game. LaMarcus Aldridge has shaken off a slow start and is up to 16.1 points per game, while Tony Parker has had a bounceback year to the tune of shooting nearly 56 percent from the field.

The Spurs are up to No. 3 in offensive efficiency and they lead the NBA in defensive efficiency by nearly five points per 100 possessions (in layman's terms, by A LOT).

What Golden State is doing has been historic. But don't forget about the NBA's other best team.

On to the rankings:

Previous power rankings: Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7

Rank (LW) Team
Record Comment
1 (1) (26-1) Friday can't come soon enough. Yes, it's Christmas Day, but it's also a rematch of last year's NBA Finals. The most highly anticipated regular season game in awhile.
(2) (23-5) Kawhi Leonard is rising in the MVP race for players not named Stephen Curry. He's been an absolute monster of efficiency this season. And as always, he's somehow done it quietly.
(4) (18-7) Dating back to last January, the Cavaliers are now 34-3 with LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving in the lineup. With Irving back, the East is clearly theirs to lose.
4 (3) (18-9) They've won seven of eight but missed a golden opportunity to take down the Cavaliers before Kyrie Irving returned. A few offensive droughts did them in in Thursday's loss.
5 (8) (16-10) Hassan Whiteside was outstanding down the stretch Sunday against the Blazers, finishing with 22 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.
6 (6) (16-10) The Pacers need to get Monta Ellis (12.2 points, 42.1% shooting, 4.5 assists) going at some point. Paul George and C.J. Miles can only shoot 3-pointers for so long.
7 (5) (17-12) Like many in this range, tough to tell where the Raptors stand after double-digit losses to Indiana, Charlotte and Sacramento....and a double-digit road win over Miami.
8 (14) (17-12) The offense is coming around in a hurry, as Mike Budenholzer's group averaged 113.0 points in three straight wins this week, including 109 against the pesky Celtics.
9 (11) (16-12) Still tough to figure out where the Clippers stand among contenders after road losses to San Antonio and Houston. Monday against Oklahoma City should give us a clearer picture.
10 (16) (16-12) Wins over Indiana, Boston and Chicago in their last four games, and they'll get Brandon Jennings back this week. Detroit is on the rise.
11 (7) (15-10) As our Vincent Goodwill wrote on Sunday, all eyes will be on Jimmy Butler after he stepped up and called out Fred Hoiberg following the Bulls' second straight loss.
12 (9) (14-13) They couldn't parlay momentum from nearly topping the Warriors and then beating Charlotte, losing three straight to East contenders in Cleveland, Detroit and Atlanta.
13 (12) (15-12) Chandler Parsons seems close to shedding his minute restriction, which should change the dynamic of the Mavericks. Big home win over the Grizzlies on Saturday.
14 (17) (15-12) Somehow, some way, the Magic are all the way up to No. 6 in defensive efficiency. A blowout win over Charlotte was particularly impressive (and surprising).
15 (10) (15-11) A solid win over the Raptors was the lone positive from a week that included losses to Orlando and Washington. They had a chance to push ahead in the East.
16 (23) (14-14) Kristaps Porzingis is one of four players averaging 13 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. The others? Anthony Davis, Pau Gasol and Karl-Anthony Towns. Good company.
17 (15) (15-14) Call it a positive going 2-2 against that schedule (WAS, at CHI, at DAL, IND). Zach Randolph is averaging just 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds since his move to the bench.
18 (12) (14-14) Watching vintage Dwight Howard above the rim in a win over the Clippers (22 points, 14 rebounds, two blocks) was fun to watch. Can it spark Houston going forward?
19 (21) (11-14) John Wall quietly putting up career-high numbers in points (19.9), field goal percentage (44.5%) and steals (2.1). The Wizards have work to do to get back in the playoff hunt.
20 (20) (11-18) Michael Carter-Williams is averaging 17.0 points on 50 percent shooting and 6.3 assists in his last seven games. And they had the Warriors on the ropes in Oracle.
21 (18) (12-17) Brandon Knight's revenge game against the Bucks on Sunday? Nine points on 3-for-10 shooting, and the Bucks earned a 101-95 road victory.
22 (22) (8-19) Baby steps for Anthony Davis and Co., who have won two of three and may be trending in the right direction as their collective health improves.
23 (19) (11-14) We write about it every week, but the defensive drop-off without Rudy Gobert continues. They're now down to 18th in efficiency after being top-3 with Gobert.
24 (26) (11-16) The Kings picked up their best win of the season Sunday night, with all five starters in double figures in a 104-94 road win over the Raptors.
25 (24) (11-18) The Blazers blew a 10-point halftime lead in Miami to close out a difficult road stretch. They play two more on the road (ATL, NOLA) before hosting the Cavs.
26 (25) (11-16) Ricky Rubio has averaged 10.2 assists in his last nine games, and nearly had a quadruple-double Wednesday against the Knicks (9/10/12/8 steals).
27 (27) (11-16) It's tough for the league's 24th ranked offense to score 125 points and lose, but that's what the Nuggets did Sunday against the Pelicans.
28 (28) (7-20) The league's longest non-Sixers losing streak (L5), the Nets hung with Miami and Indiana this week but couldn't pull off either upset.
29 (29) (4-23) A resurgent Kobe Bryant is shooting 49 percent in his last six games, averaging 18.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.
30 (30) (1-28) During their 10-game losing streak, the Sixers have been outscored by an average of 108.6 to 82.0. Good luck, Mike D'Antoni.

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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