NBA Power Rankings: The Warriors can't be stopped


NBA Power Rankings: The Warriors can't be stopped

Yes, it's repetitive at this point and you've seen it everywhere. But it will bear repeating until they slow down (if they ever do): The Warriors are ridiculous.

Sunday night they squared off against the Brooklyn Nets on the road and found themselves down five late in the third quarter. It was then that Steph Curry hit the switch, scoring 10 of the Warriors' 17 points in the final 3 minutes to take a seven-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. A 17-5 run in an instant, and they opened the final stanza scoring 22 of the first 31 points and led by 20 in what became yet another laugher, moving them to 22-0 on the year.

If the Pacers can't knock them off Monday, there's a good chance they'll be 28-0 when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas Day.

The Bulls' mark of 72 wins now seems well within their reach. No one should feel safe playing the defending champs. We're watching history.

On to the rankings:

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

Rank (LW) Team
Record Comment
1 (1) (22-0) If they get past Indiana on Monday they're looking at being 28-0 on Christmas Day against the Cavs. Us NBA fans are spoiled right now.
(2) (17-4) Kawhi Leonard has posted a career-high in both usage rate and true shooting percentage. That's downright impressive.
(7) (13-4)  Their defense hasn't dropped off in the slightest. Once Goran Dragic gets going the Heat will be downright scary. A credit to Erik Spoelstra.
4 (5) (12-7) He won't win it, but Paul George has a serious case as the NBA's Most Improved Player again. Averaging 27.6 points and 8.2 rebounds.
5 (3) (13-7)  They've now lost three straight as no Kyrie and Shumpert appears to be finally taking its toll. Luckily, both should return this month.
6 (4) (12-8)  Not an eye-opening week for the Thunder, but once they figure out how to play under Billy Donovan the Thunder will be right in the thick of it.
7 (8) (10-5)  It certainly hasn't been pretty but the Bulls are just one-half game out of the top seed in the East. Still, they haven't scored 100 points in six straight.
8 (10) (11-8)  They had the Warriors on the ropes and earned a tough road win over the Bulls, doing so in both games without the injured Al Jefferson. Steve Clifford for COY?
9 (6) (12-9)  They were one or two ridiculous Steph Curry shots from pulling off the upset. Less impressive was a loss to the Nuggets two days earlier.
10 (11) (13-9)  Mike Budenholzer's group is an impressive 6-2 against the West, with wins over Memphis and Oklahoma City to their name.
11 (9) (12-9)  The Marquette alum in me loved seeing Wesley Matthews connect on 10 3-pointers Sunday night against the Wizards.
12 (12) (12-9)  And so the roller coaster continues. Important wins over the Pelicans and Suns with a blowout loss to the Spurs sandwiched in-between.
13 (12) (11-9)  Now the NBA's third most efficient defense, the Celtics' road win over the Heat on Monday was an impressive one.
14 (15) (11-9)  They had won five straight before losing a late lead against the Clippers on the road. Even so, the Magic appear postseason-bound thus far.
15 (20) (10-11)  There we go. Some room for optimism after the Rockets win three straight, with James Harden averaging 26.7/6.7/8.0 in the process.
16 (14) (11-9)  They'll play 12 of their next 14 games away from Staples Center. Thursday night in Chicago should be a good test for both teams.
17 (17) (9-9)  Life without Rudy Gobert has been difficult as the Jazz have dropped to 11th in defensive efficiency. Still, the win over Indiana was impressive.
18 (21) (12-9)  Reggie Jackson has averaged 27 points per game during the Pistons' four-game win streak. In all those games they've scored 100+ points.
19 (22) (9-12) If they can find a consistent third scorer behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, the playoffs won't be out of the question.
20 (23) (10-11)  Your weekly Kristaps Porzingis update: 16.9 points on 50 percent shooting, 10.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in his last 10 games. The Knicks hit a home run at No. 4.
21 (19) (8-11) Karl-Anthony Towns had his best game as a pro on Saturday, going for 27 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks in a loss to the Blazers.
22 (16) (8-13)  They've lost eight of nine, including a heartbreaker in Memphis on a last-second alley-oop to Jeff Green. A nightmare of a schedule, yes, but 1-8 is 1-8.
23 (26) (5-15) The Pellies are a different team with Tyreke Evans in the lineup. In his return, he's averaged 14.7 points and 9.3 assists. The OT win against the Cavs was huge.
24 (18) (8-10) Cruise past the Cavaliers on the road and lose to the Lakers at home the following night. And now the schedule gets more difficult in December.
25 (25) (8-13)  In the midst of a disappointing season, Giannis Antetokounmpo is again improving, shooting better than 50 percent from the field and nearly 85 percent from the stripe.
26 (27) (8-13) They had a chance to beat the Bulls on the road, and followed that up with a win in Toronto and Philadelphia. Baby steps.
27 (24) (7-15)  Sunday night's loss to Oklahoma City was a backbreaker; the Kings led by six with less than 2 minutes to play.
28 (28) (5-15) Who would've thought the Nets would play the Warriors the closest? After almost beating them in Oakland, they led by five late in the third before Steph went Steph.
29 (29) (3-17)  Kobe Bryant is shooting 27-for-104 (25.9 percent) since announcing his retirement. Do you, Black Mamba. We'll see you Feb. 21 at the United Center for one last go-round.
30 (30) (1-20)  Earning their first win of the year had to feel good, even if it came against Kobe and the circus that is the Los Angeles Lakers.

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

The door has officially been closed on the 2017-18 season for the Chicago Bulls, and the word that most comes to mind is “unfulfilling.”

Or maybe even “indistinguishable.”

Draft night was supposed to be a culmination of a painful seven-month stretch that only had occasional yet costly moments of light.

Death lineup? Meet Death March. And Death April, while we’re at it.

The Bulls brass sold everyone on a full rebuild after trading Jimmy Butler one year ago, with an unspoken promise that this draft would bear franchise-changing fruit—hence the general feeling of angst or even indifference with the solid selection of Wendell Carter Jr. and their not-so-secret affection of Chandler Hutchison.

It was why fans believe the Bulls got cold feet about trading to move up, and why they believe the Bulls weren’t being pragmatic in staying away from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter, some believe, has star written all over him given his prep ranking this time last year and the Bulls were in position to speed up this process without having to go into a painful Process.

They were desperate for a star, believing the tankathon had produced so much suffering it had to be something on the back end.

There was the fight (or the punch).

The aftermath.

The miserable 3-20 start.

The 14-7 streak that produced the audacity of hope.

The reality that 14-7 was damaging enough to the lottery chances that a 3-11 finish couldn’t rectify.

And finally, the coin flip that cost them five spots in the lottery one month ago.

So that empty feeling has less to do with Carter and Hutchison, who’ve done nothing to earn the “blah” reaction from the fan base and some media. It has everything to do with the unanswered questions over the last 82 games and lack of clarity over the three hauls from draft night last year.

It’s not that Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn underperformed individually last season, but the lack of cohesiveness due to injuries and circumstances has led to the varying thoughts.

LaVine is approaching restricted free agency and by all accounts is taking his continuing rehab in Washington very seriously.  Markkanen has added plenty of muscle since the offseason began, appearing as if he can play Michael B. Jordan’s in-ring foil in the next installation of “Creed” as Ivan Drago’s long lost son.

And despite the report about Dunn not working as hard on the floor this offseason, that would be more of a concern if this were late August, not June.

The last time they were seen together on the floor, they looked no closer to a pecking order than the day they arrived.

What we know is that they’re productive NBA players, capable of putting an individual tattoo on a game at a moment’s notice, skillful enough to take your breath away.

And for whatever reason, the expectations changed once the three displayed they could be dynamic on their own—a star needed to be anointed and groomed to go with the star they believed was coming their way after the season.

Management is fully behind Markkanen, but Paxson’s strong words about LaVine at the season-ending news conference illustrated how much it feels LaVine has to prove next season.

With his restricted free agency status looming, the Bulls’ initial offer will show how much they value him until and if he gets a better deal on the market.

And the fact the Bulls weren’t afraid to draft Trae Young while having a healthy debate about Collin Sexton on draft night has to show they have at least some skepticism about the future at point guard.

But stars—developing stars, acquired stars, drafted stars—have to do it on their own. No amount of promotion or prodding from management will validate their faith, if that’s the route the Bulls choose to go.

This has to be a meritocracy or it won’t work and, honestly, it’s time for a reality check.

All the worry about the Bulls getting back to title contention sooner rather than later seems like folks getting ahead of themselves.

The front office has taken its share of shots from media and fans, so some questioning is earned but they’re right about one thing. Rebuilds aren’t completed in a day or 12 months.

Expecting some magic potion to arrive in the form of a top draft pick isn’t going to cure what ills this roster, and it doesn’t seem likely all the cap space will result in a free agent choosing the Bulls over the usual suspects.

However, methodical building can look like complacency if not done with a sense of urgency.

And with urgency in mind, this past season was unsatisfying to say the least—heading into the next phase with two more young pieces to develop while the first three are still in the evaluation stage.

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Donte Ingram's 2018 keeps getting better and better.

The March Madness hero, who buried a game-winning 3-pointer in the first round of Loyola's win over Miami, will play on the Bulls' Summer League team.

Ingram, a Simeon Academy graduate, had himself an incredible senior season with the Ramblers, who advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

In five NCAA Tournament games Ingram averaged 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Ramblers. He also had 18 points in the MVC Conference Championship Game to secure the Ramblers' March Madness berth.

He'll join first-round draft picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison on the Las Vegas Summer League team, which will begin play early next month.