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 Talk Podcast: Reaction to Kris Dunn's knee injury and where Bulls go from here

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Reaction to Kris Dunn's knee injury and where Bulls go from here

Kelly Crull, Mark Strotman and Will Perdue react to the news that Kris Dunn will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a knee injury.

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

Kris Dunn to miss 4 to 6 weeks with MCL sprain

Kris Dunn to miss 4 to 6 weeks with MCL sprain

The hits keep coming for the Bulls, and after the latest one it might be time to fire up the 2019 mock drafts.

Fred Hoiberg revealed Tuesday before practice that point guard Kris Dunn suffered a moderate sprain of his left MCL in Monday’s loss to the Mavericks and will miss the next 4 to 6 weeks.

“To have him out of the lineup for an extended period, it’s extremely difficult,” Hoiberg said. “When you have a guy who is out there and really made strides over the course of last season and the summer he had and the way he played during training camp, it’s difficult to miss him.”

It’s yet another freak injury for Dunn, who suffered the injury midway through the second quarter while landing after a layup over DeAndre Jordan. Last year Dunn suffered a dislocated finger in the preseason and then suffered a concussion that cost him 11 games. A toe injury then ended his season as the tanking Bulls shut him down for the final 14 games.

But Dunn was expected to play a significant role in Year 2 of the Bulls’ rebuild. As well as leading the team in assists and being the most sure-handed closer, Dunn’s defensive prowess was going to help a Bulls team that finished 29th in efficiency and lost David Nwaba, perhaps their second best defender, in the offseason.

Even prior to Dunn’s injury the Bulls had been addressing the position behind him, claiming Tyler Ulis off waivers on Oct. 14 and signing Shaq Harrison on Sunday. They opted to keep Ryan Arcidiacono on the final roster and will now rely on some combination of those three behind Cam Payne, who tied a career high with 17 points on Saturday against the Pistons.

That’s why Dunn’s injury could affect the team more than Lauri Markkanen’s or Denzel Valentine’s. The Bulls were able to cover up Markkanen’s absence with Bobby Portis and free agent acquisition Jabari Parker, while they invested a first-round pick in wing Chandler Hutchison and guaranteed Antonio Blakeney’s contract over the summer.

There’s quantity on the Bulls’ depth chart behind Dunn, but quality is another story.

“Cam had his best game of maybe his career a couple games ago against Detroit,” Hoiberg said. “He has some things he can build on. The biggest thing at that position is you have to get us organized at both ends of the floor. That’s where Kris had taken a big step in the right direction with that. Arcidiacono is one of the better communicators and hardest-playing guys on our team. We’ve got guys who have some starting experience. It’s big shoes to fill. But I’m confident our guys will give great effort.”

It could mean more ball-handling responsibilities for Zach LaVine, who has been a terror in pick-and-roll sets three games into the season. Though he’s only averaged 2.7 assists, the Bulls offense has been humming, with his 32.3 points per game leading the way. Using LaVine as a primary ball handler could allow Hoiberg to run a point guard-less offense and mix and match the other backcourt position.

They’ll have to do it on the fly. The group of point guards the Bulls will face in the next 11 days include Kemba Walker (Charlotte) twice, Trae Young (Atlanta), Steph Curry (Golden State), Jamal Murray (Denver), Darren Collison (Indiana) and James Harden (Houston). It could get a lot worse for the Bulls before it gets any better, and with Markkanen, Valentine and now Dunn on the mend. 

For those looking into such things three games into the season, the Bulls are currently tied with the Thunder, Cavaliers and Lakers for the worst record in the league. The NBA changed its Lottery rules for this upcoming season, with the three worst teams in the league all sharing the same odds at receiving the top pick in the draft.