White Sox

NBA Power Rankings: Memphis still league's best?

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NBA Power Rankings: Memphis still league's best?

By Tony Andracki & Mark Strotman

Each Monday throughout the regular season, Mark Strotman and Tony Andracki will rank all 30 NBA teams. Below are Week 4 Power Rankings. Think we're way off? Agree with our picks? Hit us up on Twitter at@BullsTalkCSNwith comments or criticisms.
Past rankings: Preseason Week 1 Week 2 Week 3

Tony
MarkComments1
Tony: Tony Parker is a man possessed right now.
Mark: Memphis has wins over Miami, Oklahoma City, New York and the Lakers.
2
Tony: Wade has looked decidedly human this year.
Mark: Home games galore coming up, which means plenty of wins.
3
Tony: Balanced team holds 2nd-best point differential in NBA.
Mark: Southwest division race will be fun to watch (Memphis).
4
Tony: Have come back to Earth a bit lately.
Mark: How long can Jason Kidd keep this up?
5
Tony: Big Three is now Durant, Westbrook, Serge.
Mark: Kevin Martin struggling, but Durant really rolling now.
6
Tony: DeAndre Jordan: All-Star?
Mark: Went 1-3 on brutal road stretch (SAS, OKC, BRK, ATL).7
Tony: Just wait until they get Joe Johnson going.
Mark: Joe Johnson warming up.8
Tony: The ship has been righted, but now they need to get over .500 hump.
Mark: Antwan Jamison the biggest benefactor from D'Antoni?
9
Tony: Streaky team, but winners of four straight right now.
Mark: Just think if they had Bynum.
10
Tony: Holiday has been PHI's MVP, especially with Bynum out indefinitely.
Mark: Al Horford is healthy and better than ever.
11
Tony: Rank last in the league in rebounds per game.
Mark: Big Three continues to bail out inconsistent bench.
12
Tony: Jeff Teague is finally taking the next step.
Mark: Biggest roller coaster in the NBA moving up at the moment.
13
Tony: Looking more and more like a playoff team every day.
Mark: FreeJohnHenson, Skiles!
14
Tony: Relinquishing their hold on Central division.
Mark: Circus trip is over, six of next eight at home.
15
Tony: Three-game losing streak the low point of Thibs' tenure.
Mark: Won three straight before ugly loss at Sacramento.
16
Tony: Newcomers (Mayo, Collison) still carrying this team.
Mark: The NBA's most pleasant surprise in 2012.
17
Tony: Well-rounded squad, but nothing flashy.
Mark: 8-6 record while playing eight on the road.
18
Tony: Kemba has been a driving force in turning this team around.
Mark: Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson both look great.
19
Tony: Still no depth. That will eventually haunt them.
Mark: Lost three straight with Love back. Weird.
20
Tony: Lin (34.8 FG) needs to shoot the ball better.
Mark: 1-2 last week, all at home. Ouch.
21
Tony: Hibbert, George may be coming around.
Mark: That's the Paul George we saw in last year's playoffs.
22
Tony: Morris has burst into the starting lineup.
Mark: Markief Morris playing well in starting lineup.
23
Tony: Love is back, but they're still losing.
Mark: Meyers Leonard looked good in Aldridge's absence.
24
Tony: Remember when they started the season 2-0?
Mark: Jameer Nelson strong in return from injury.
25
Tony: Have won two of three against some very good teams.
Mark: 16-point win over Lakers deserves credit.
26
Tony: They'd be a lot better if Anthony Davis could stay on court.
Mark: Last three losses by 1 point, 1 point and in overtime.
27
Tony: Only Phoenix allows more points per game.
Mark: Anthony Davis (ankle) missing two weeks not good news.
28
Tony: Lowry is back, but Calderon was very good in his absence.
Mark: 3-3 since an 0-8 start.
29
Tony: Defense is way too inconsistent.
Mark: Dion Waiters thriving without Kyrie.
30
Tony: Don't worry, Bradley Beal thinks they'll still make the playoffs.
Mark: Getting ugly in D.C. Suck for Shabazz?

Jose Abreu still leading AL first basemen to start 2018 MLB All-Star Game

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu still leading AL first basemen to start 2018 MLB All-Star Game

Last week, Jose Abreu had a nearly 26,000 vote lead to start the 2018 MLB All-Star game over Red Sox first basemen Mitch Moreland. But now Abreu can take a brief sigh of relief on his quest to Washington.

MLB updated the American League fan ballot standings Tuesday for the Midsummer Classic. The Sox first baseman now has a lead on Moreland by over 138,000 votes.

This an encouraging sign for Abreu and White Sox faithful. Are fans taking notice of Abreu’s production this season?

His numbers this year include a slash line of .283/.338/.500. He also has 11 homers, 41 RBIs and 26 doubles. For his career, Abreu has a .299 average, 135 homers and 451 RBIs in 683 games.

He ranks first among AL first basemen in hits, doubles, RBIs, SLG and OPS. In other major offensive statistics, Abreu ranks near the top 10 for almost all of them.

Abreu is a cornerstone in the White Sox rebuild and if he does indeed start, it could be huge for his confidence and the team.

An All-Star nod this season would also mean a second career appearance in the game. He debuted in his rookie year (2014) as a reserve.

If fans indeed vote Abreu in as a starter, he would be the first position player to start for the White Sox since Frank Thomas did it back-to-back as a first baseman in 1994 and 1995.

There is still time to cast your votes to see Abreu start the Midsummer Classic. The AL will have another updated voting ballot June 26.

Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?

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USA TODAY

Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?

Here's an interesting development as we approach the NHL Draft: Artemi Panarin has informed the Blue Jackets that he's not ready to consider an extension "at this time" and because of that, Columbus is testing the market for the Russian winger, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen responded to the report shortly after in a statement released by the team:

"Artemi is an elite National Hockey League player. Our position has been that we want him to be a Blue Jacket for many years and that has not changed. He has a year left on his contract, so there is plenty of time to work towards that end. Should anything change moving forward, we will address it at that time and any decision we make will be in the best interest of our club.”

Ironically, Panarin was traded to Columbus on the afternoon of last year's draft as part of a blockbuster package that sent Brandon Saad back to Chicago. It shook up the hockey world, and has the potential to do so again.

Panarin is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019, but is free to sign an extension with Columbus on July 1. Clearly, that doesn't seem to be in the cards right now and it's why the Blue Jackets have to put out feelers. They can't risk losing him for nothing.

On the flip side, Panarin has every right to test the open market. He has one year left on his contract that carries a $6 million cap hit. He's due for a hefty raise, will be 27 years old next summer — the prime of his hockey career — and will certainly be looking for a long-term deal after accepting a bridge contract with the Blackhawks.

Speaking of whom, should his former team explore bringing him back to Chicago now that he's on the market?

Every general manager should and will do their due diligence and call for an asking price, Stan Bowman included. Those conversations might start with Alex DeBrincat or Nick Schmaltz, and if that's the case, you say thanks but no thanks and move on. 

The Blackhawks have the Nos. 8 and 27 picks in this year's draft as possible ammunition, but the Blue Jackets are ready to take that next step. They were up 2-0 in their first-round series before losing four straight to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. It's unlikely they'd be looking to center a potential deal around draft picks. 

The only way you even consider it from the Blackhawks perspective is if Panarin is guaranteed to sign a long-term extension at a price you're comfortable with, but that's one of the main reasons why they traded him in the first place. 

To cap it all off, trading for Panarin wouldn't even address the Blackhawks' biggest need and that's a Top 4 defenseman. Those don't grow on trees. The Blackhawks will have the cap space to sign a player like James van Riemsdyk to patch up their top 6. You can't say the same for the free-agent blue line group.

So while it may certainly be fun for Blackhawks fans to come up with possible trade scenarios to get Panarin back in an Indianhead sweater, it just doesn't make great sense for a variety of reasons.