NBA Power Rankings: Leonard, Spurs go toe-to-toe with Warriors


NBA Power Rankings: Leonard, Spurs go toe-to-toe with Warriors

The San Antonio Spurs made a statement on Saturday.

In their 87-79 victory over the defending champion Golden State Warriors, they used a steady dose of small ball, defensive prowess and Kawhi Leonard at his very best.

The Spurs' franchise player went for 18 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and two blocks, making plays on both ends of the floor. The Warriors are the team to beat until they're knocked off, but this week Leonard has the Spurs on top after an impressive home victory.

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 | Week 17 | Week 18 | Week 19 | Week 20

Rank (LW) Team
Record Comment
1 (2) 59-10 Kawhi Leonard was phenomenal in Saturday's win over the Warriors. If the Spurs are going to knock off the defending champs, it'll be because of No. 2.
(1) 62-7 Looking for a silver lining from Saturday's loss? Stephen Curry went 1-for-12 from deep, the Dubs shot 38% and still had a chance to win in San Antonio down the stretch.
(3) 49-20 49 wins, the top spot in the East and the fourth best point differential in the NBA. And yet, so many issues under Tyronn Lue. They're just a game up on Toronto now.
4 (4) 48-21 Not quite ready to dub them the East's best team, but they're getting closer. Kyle Lowry won Eastern Conference Player of the Week, averaging 27.2 points and 6.8 assists as the Raptors went 4-1.
5 (5) 48-22 Four straight victories, three against playoff teams (and one against the Sixers) and a healthy Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant? San Antonio and Golden State get today's headline, but OKC is right there.
6 (7) 41-29 Five straight W's have them ahead of the pack in the race for the No. 3 seed. Still, arguably the East's hottest team has work to do, with two games left against both Cleveland and Toronto and one against Boston.
7 (8) 40-29 Talk about a statement maker. Miami drubbed LeBron James and the Cavaliers by 21 on Sunday, with five players scoring 16 or more points. Cleveland doesn't want any part of this team in May.
8 (6) 43-26 Losers in six of nine, they can all but kiss goodbye catching Oklahoma City for the No. 3 seed. That means a date with Golden State in Round 2, presuming the Clips advance that far. Paging Blake Griffin.
9 (10) 39-30 Another step forward for the Hornets, who earn an impressive road victory against Miami and are now just 1.5 games behind Atlanta for the No. 3 seed in the East. They remain red-hot.
10 (9) 40-30 This recent skid has dropped Brad Stevens' group all the way down to No. 5 in the East. With Toronto at home and a West Coast trip upcoming, things aren't getting any easier, plus Jae Crowder (ankle) remains out.
11 (11) 40-30 In a season ravaged with injury it was pretty awesome to see Zach Randolph log his first career triple-double in an impressive win over the Clippers. Z-Bo's about all that's holding Memphis together right now.
12 (13) 36-33 They go 1-2 at home against Boston (W), Toronto (L) and Oklahoma City (L). But now the schedule opens up, and they should distance themselves from Detroit and Chicago. Thirteen of their final 16 games are against teams at or below .500.
13 (15) 35-35 Wednesday's tilt against Utah will be the only game until Apr. 7 against an opponent below .500. Put another way? They need that one and then hope for a .500 mark in that six-game stretch.
14 (12) 36-35 Playing 11 of 13 on the road was daunting, and they've now lost four of their last six against stellar competition. They should be playoff-bound still, but a win over Dallas on Wednesday would ease some nerves in Portland.
15 (16) 35-33 Here's where the Bulls will make or break their playoff chances. They're 2-0 to start a six-game stretch against teams all below .500. After that, the schedule gets real tough to finish the year.
16 (14) 36-34 If Detroit is going to make a run at the No. 8 seed, Reggie Jackson needs to be more efficient. He's shooting just 41 percent from the field in March, and just 25.5 percent from deep.
17 (21) 34-35 It'll be tough for them to catch the Pistons or Bulls for the No. 8 seed (basketball-reference has them at 11.7% playoff odds) but reeling off four straight wins, including W's over both those teams, was a good start.
18 (19) 35-35 Dirk Nowitzki turned the clock back and dropped a 40-point afternoon on the Blazers in an OT victory. It was huge for playoff positioning, and the two teams will meet again Wednesday in Oregon.
19 (17) 34-36 They've now won five of six (and importantly won both games Gordon Hayward sat out, including over Cleveland) and sit a game back of the Rockets and Mavericks, plus 1.5 back of the Blazers.
20 (18) 30-40 Jabari Parker has increased his scoring in each month this season. Better than that, post-ACL surgery? He's averaged 37.3 and 36.2 minutes the last two months, respectively. He's back.
21 (24) 27-42 The good with the bad with DeMarcus Cousins. He bumped a Madison Square Garden security guard (the bad) in the midst of going for 24 points and 20 rebounds in a road win over the Knicks (good).
22 (20) 29-41 A rough start to the road trip, losing at Miami, Orlando and Atlanta. But seven players scored in double figures in an impressive victory over the Hornets. D.J. Augustin led the way off the bench with 24, continuing his hot stretch.
23 (22) 29-40 Victor Oladipo appears intent on finishing out his 2015-16 campaign strong, averaging 22.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists over his last 11 games. His 45-point outing against the Cavs was a career-high.
24 (23) 26-43 Anthony Davis was shut down for the year, and he revealed Monday that he's been playing with a torn labrum for three years. Years. Davis will have missed 68 games the first four seasons of his NBA career. Not great.
25 (25) 22-47 When Karl-Anthony Towns is named NBA Rookie of the Year, it'll mark the first time since 1974 the same team won back-to-back ROYs (Andrew Wiggins, 2015). The Buffalo Braces did it with Bob McAdoo and Ernie DiGregorio.
26 (26) 28-43 He's had a remarkable rookie season, but Kristaps Porzingis appears to have hit a wall: 12.9 points, 33.7% FG in 27.3 minutes. The Knicks have lost eight of 11, which hasn't helped.
27 (27) 19-50 Forget it was at home against the Sixers. Bojan Bogdanovic's 44-point effort was pretty remarkable considering he only made four 3-pointers. He followed it up with 26 against the Bulls. Signs of hope for the future for the Nets.
28 (29) 19-50 Brandon Knight's return has helped the Suns go 2-3, far better than the 4-17 record they touted with him out. Then again, that could hurt them when it comes time to pick ping-pong balls.
29 (28) 14-55 A sneaky "good" loss to the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. They're now five games up on the Suns and Nets for the second worst record in the NBA. They appear closer to keeping that first round pick.
30 (30) 9-61 Hollis Thompson has given the Sixers a bright spot on the wing with Robert Covington out, averaging 15.8 points and 2.5 triples in his last four games. He's someone who could stick looking to their future.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Getting to know the Bulls Outsiders team; bold predictions for this season

NBC Sports Chicago

Bulls Talk Podcast: Getting to know the Bulls Outsiders team; bold predictions for this season

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, the Bulls Outsiders team of Matt Peck, David Watson, and John Sabine join Kevin Anderson to talk about the series premier of ‘Bulls Outsiders’ Thursday night. Hear about how the show came together and what they are hoping to bring to the Bulls fanbase this season. They’ll also share their bold predictions for the season including two potential end-of-season award winners from this roster.

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

Kris Dunn thinks Zach LaVine could be 'a good defender in this league'

Kris Dunn thinks Zach LaVine could be 'a good defender in this league'

We all know what Zach LaVine is capable of doing on the offensive side of things. But what about his defense?

It's no secret that LaVine has had his fair share of struggles on defense, but Kris Dunn thinks highly of his 23-year-old teammate and what his potential is at the other end.

"On the defensive end I just told him, 'You're as fast as me. You're more athletic than me. There's no way you shouldn't be a good defender in this league. You could be one of those guys who could be dynamic in the passing lanes because you're so athletic and fast.'" Dunn said of LaVine. "And personally, I like to score. If you get in a passing lane, that's a dunk for yourself and because you've got so much bounce that's when you get the crowd on their feet — maybe do a windmill, a 360, something.

"But I think he's been going a good job on the defensive end. It's not going to be easy. We all got to learn and I think we're all trying."

Improving his defense would obviously be a big step forward for LaVine (and the Bulls), and he knows it. 

“I think I had a lot better focus on the defensive end,” LaVine said when assessing his preseason. “I had some mistakes too, but I wanted to go out there and just really hone in on being more focused down there. I felt like I did OK with that. Still some areas I want to get better at, definitely off-the-ball I think I did a lot better than I had before.’’

LaVine and the Bulls travel to Philadelphia to face the 76ers on Thursday night in their season opener. You can watch Bulls Pre- and Postgame Live on NBC Sports Chicago before and after the game for highlights and analysis.