Bulls

NBA Power Rankings: Spurs knock Warriors from the top

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NBA Power Rankings: Spurs knock Warriors from the top

Let's be clear in saying that the Warriors are just fine and likely still the favorites in the Western Conference.

Despite losing two of their last three, they still hold the league's best record and are on pace to win 74 games.

But it's become too difficult to ignore what the Spurs are doing as the NBA's hottest team and, for the first time this year, the top ranked team in these rankings.

During their 11-game win streak they have the league's most efficient offense (113.0) AND most efficient defense (94.7).

We'll have to wait until January 25 for the top two teams to square off against each other, but we'll likely get seven more of them in late May/early June.

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 | Week 11

Rank (LW) Team
Record Comment
1 (2) (36-6) They've won 11 straight and 18 of 19. Golden State dominated the headlines for three months, but the Spurs have matched them step-for-step.
(1) (37-4) They've lost two of three, quieting talk (for now) about them reaching 73 wins. They can make another statement Monday night against the Cavaliers.
(5) (30-12) Three of their four wins this week came by 19 or more points. Russell Westbrook has tallied triple-doubles in his last two games.
4 (3) (28-10) They've won nine of 10, with LeBron James averaging 24.9 points on 55 percent shooting in that span. He'll get MVP consideration if the Dubs falter anymore.
5 (5) (26-14) A 10-game win streak ended against the Kings, but not before an impressive 14-point win over the Heat. They'll need DeAndre Jordan (pneumonia) back soon.
6 (8) (25-15) Winners in four straight, Kyle Lowry's group has quietly crept up to No. 2 in the East. Lowry's 21.8/8.0/55 in that span has been a major reason why.
7 (6) (24-17) After leading the league in it the last two seasons, Kyle Korver is shooting 36 percent from beyond the arc this season, the worst mark of his career by far.
8 (10) (22-18) They really could be higher than this after dominating the Warriors wire-to-wire. They're all the way up to No. 8 in defensive efficiency.
9 (14) (23-19) When Matt Barnes isn't running his mouth and writing checks the Grizzlies are playing well, with wins over the Celtics, Pistons and Nets this week.
10 (12) (22-20) They're starting to look like their old selves, winning six of seven since that four-game losing streak. They should stay above .500 the rest of the way.
11 (9) (23-18) They can't get back to South Beach soon enough after an ugly 2-4 road trip, with their only wins coming over Phoenix and Denver.
12 (7) (23-16) They've lost four of five, with their only win an overtime victory over the Sixers in which Jimmy Butler needed 53 points to get it done. Losing Joakim Noah will hurt.
13 (16) (22-19) Jae Crowder is making a strong case for NBA's Most Improved, averaging 14.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.
14 (11) (23-19) They've lost three of four, but those L's came against Cleveland, Oklahoma City and San Antonio. A road win against Chicago was a big one to get.
15 (13) (22-19) They didn't look like the NBA's third most efficient defense in allowing 129 points to the Nuggets in a loss. They've lost three straight and four of five.
16 (17) (19-20)  They're looking much better of late, winning four in a row before a loss to the Celtics. If Bradley Beal can stay healthy they'll compete for a playoff spot in the East.
17 (15) (20-22) Kristaps Porzingis is back on track. A 26-point outing against the No. 2 defense in Boston was equally impressive. 
18 (20) (18-22)  Rudy Gobert's return hasn't helped a still-struggling defense. The Jazz are 15th in defensive efficiency since he returned on Jan. 7.
19 (19) (17-23)  Road wins over the Jazz and Clippers have them just a single game out of the final playoff spot in the West.
20 (18) (20-19)  Narrow losses to the Wizards and Raptors were tough to swallow, as they've now lost six of seven. They could do with beating Atlanta on Monday.
21 (22) (18-25)  After winning six of 10, we'll get to see if this turnaround is for real in road games against the Heat and Rockets. The talent is there.
22 (25) (16-25)  Perhaps the team of the week after knocking off both the Warriors and Pacers. Danilo Gallinari has averaged 24.0 points in his last seven games.
23 (21) (18-25) Losing to the Sixers is one thing. Losing to the Sixers by 25, and trailing by as many as 29, is quite another. Not good. 
24 (24) (13-26)  If the Pellies do trade Ryan Anderson, he's auditioning well. The stretch forward has averaged 20.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in his last five games.
25 (23) (18-22)  The collapse continues. An impressive win over the Hawks was canceled out by losses to the Pelicans and Bucks. They were once 17-13.
26 (28) (11-30)  They've won twice in January, and their next six likely won't improve on that number: TOR, CLE, UTAH, OKC, MIA, DAL. Somewhere Danny Ainge smiles.
27 (26) (13-29)  A good way to break a nine-game losing streak is a 30-point win. Still, expected more improvement from this young team. Hasn't yet happened.
28 (29) (9-34)  Kobe Bryant had seven assists in the first quarter Sunday to move into second place all-time on the Lakers assist list. He's still nearly 4,000 behind Magic Johnson.
29 (30) (5-37) Credit where credit's due. They had the Bulls on the ropes (before Jimmy Butler exploded) and dominated (yes, really) the Blazers in a 25-point win.
30 (27) (13-29) This is getting real ugly. Three road losses by a combined 63 points, including a 30-point thrashing via the Timberwolves. They've lost 15 of 17.

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Zach LaVine gets no respect

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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

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USA TODAY

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.