NBA Power Rankings: Wade, Heat proving to be battle-tested


NBA Power Rankings: Wade, Heat proving to be battle-tested

When Chris Bosh was forced out of action indefinitely with a blood clot in his left leg before the All-Star break, it felt like deja vu.

Bosh missed 30 games the previous season with a blood clot in his lungs, a serious situation that could have cost him his life. At that time, Miami was 22-30, sitting in the No. 8 spot in the East. After Bosh went down, Miami limped to the finish line without their All-Star, going 15-15 and missing out on the postseason by a single game.

This time around, however, Miami hasn't faltered. Since coming out of the All-Star break the Heat are 8-2 and have moved within one-half game of the Boston Celtics for the No. 3 seed in the East.

Dwyane Wade, Hassan Whiteside and newcomer Joe Johnson all have contributed to the cause, while Goran Dragic is improving and Amare Stoudemire has helped fill some of the void left behind by Bosh inside. It's no surprise they're on the move in this week's power rankings. Here's how the rest of the teams shook out:

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

Rank (LW) Team
Record Comment
1 (1) 55-6 Statistically speaking, Sunday's loss to the Lakers was the biggest upset in NBA history. It just defies logic. Steph, Klay, Draymond and Barnes went 2-for-25 from deep.
(3) 53-9 Have yourself a week, Kawhi Leonard. San Antonio's franchise player averaged 27.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists in three victories. The Spurs are now just two games behind the Warriors for the league's best record.
(5) 44-17 What panic? Cleveland knocks off Indiana, Washington and Boston at home this week, averaging 109.3 points per game in the process. LeBron James averaged 26.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 6.3 assists after resting in Washington.
4 (4) 41-20 Another impressive week north of the border, as the Raptors keep pace with Cleveland after victories over Utah and Portland. They may not catch the Cavs, but there's no question about who's the East's second best team.
5 (3) 43-20 Brutal week for Kevin Durant and the Thunder. They choke away a victory on the road against the Clippers and then take a fourth-quarter lead against the Warriors...only to lose by 15.
6 (6) 40-21 Thursday's improbable come-from-behind victory over the Thunder, that ended in a 26-5 run, may be a turning point in the season for the Clips. How Blake Griffin acclimates when he returns will be interesting to watch.
7 (8) 37-26 Can't say enough about the job Erik Spoelstra has done, keeping the Heat in contention in the East after Chris Bosh was sidelined again. They're fourth in the East and closing fast on Boston.
8 (7) 38-26 The race for the No. 3 seed (and, thus, avoiding the Cavaliers in a potential second round series) will be exciting between the C's and Heat. Boston won three more at home this week but was blown out Saturday in Cleveland.
9 (10) 35-28 Gutsy win against the Clippers on Saturday night. Between that and their near-victory over the Warriors they're proving that hanging on to Al Horford and Jeff Teague at the trade deadline could pay off in the postseason.
10 (9) 33-31 Damian Lillard's encore after his sensational February? A March that began with averages of 33.3 points on 51 percent shooting and 4.3 triples in three games, including a 50-point outing in a loss to the Raptors.
11 (12) 37-25 Winners in six of eight against albeit weak competition, but their home win against the Jazz was an impressive victory. Zach Randolph went for 25 points and eight rebounds in that one.
12 (13) 33-28 Yet another impressive week for Kemba Walker and the Hornets: A 34-point win over the Suns, a 20-point win over the Sixers and a seven-point win over the Pacers. They're now up to No. 6 in the East.
13 (11) 33-30 The Pacers' next six games are against teams with winning records. They get four of those at home, but they've lost three of their last four in Indiana. We'll learn a lot about Paul George and the Pacers the next two weeks.
14 (14) 33-30 Crazy tough schedule upcoming for the Mavs: Nine of their next 10 come against teams at or above .500. That includes two against the Blazers, sandwiched between two against the Warriors. Gut-check time for Dallas.
15 (15) 31-31 The Pistons may look back on Saturday night's ugly loss to the Knicks as one that got away if they fail to make the playoffs. They fell behind the Bulls for the No. 8 seed with the loss.
16 (16) 31-30 Jimmy Butler wasted no time making an impact in his return to the Bulls' lineup. In a win over the Rockets he went for 24 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out. Maybe the two-time All-Star can save the Bulls' playoff chances.
17 (18) 29-33 Derrick Favors' 28 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks helped snap a five-game losing streak. The fight for the No. 8 seed in the West (and the right to get thumped by the Warriors) rages on. Utah's one game behind Houston.
18 (17) 30-32 Bradley Beal bruised his pelvis on Saturday (and it wasn't pretty). If he's forced to miss any time it may prove lethal to Washington's playoff chances. They're now 1.5 games behind the Bulls.
19 (21) 25-36 A silver lining in their rapidly declining record: They now hold the NBA's ninth worst record, two games worse than Orlando (11th). They'll keep their first round pick so long as it stays inside the top 10.
20 (20) 31-32 In Thursday's win over New Orelans, they went 3-for-34 from beyond the arc, an NBA record for outside shooting futility. A victory in Toronto on the second of a back-to-back was maybe the biggest win of the week.
21 (23) 26-37 Giannis Antetokounmpo is playing the best basketball of his young career. In his last seven games he's averaged 20.3 points, 10.6 rebounds and 8.7 assists, including three triple-doubles.
22 (25) 27-34 The good: Beating the Bulls by 13 at home. The (really) bad: Getting blown out at home by the Suns, who had previously lost 17 straight away from Phoenix. They're four games back of the No. 8 seed.
23 (19) 23-38 They have now lost four straight - three to teams below .500 - and Eric Gordon fractured his ring finger again. This season has been a complete and utter mess.
24 (22) 25-38 Emmanuel Mudiay was a stud in a matchup against fellow rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell, going for 22 points and seven assists in Denver's win over the Lakers. He followed it up with 25 against the Nets.
25 (24) 26-38 It's been tough listening to Carmelo Anthony air his frustrations with constant losing, so it was good to see him and the Knicks earn an impressive victory over the Pistons on Saturday. Melo had 24 and 10 in that one.
26 (26) 20-43 A beautiful sign for the future: In Saturday's win over the Nets Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine combined for 75 points on 33-for-44 shooting. Wiggins is the oldest of the three...at 21 years old.
27 (27) 18-45 Thomas Robinson went for 18 points, 17 rebounds, 5 assists and four steals in Saturday's loss to the Timberwolves. It's just one game, but it'd be fun to see him finish the season strong. He's still just 24.
28 (29) 13-51 D'Angelo Russell's 39-point outing in a win over the Nets was something to behold. He hit eight triples, added six boards and was a game-high +13 in 35 minutes. He's the real deal.
29 (30) 17-46 Silver lining alert: 19-year-old Devin Booker has two games with 32+ points. The only other players to accomplish that? LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant. Good company for the rookie.
30 (28) 8-55 They've now lost 12 straight and have a 3.5-game "lead" on the Lakers for the league's worst record. Incredibly, they've had three 10-game-plus losing streaks this year. Trust the process?

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.