White Sox

NBA Power Rankings: West dominance

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NBA Power Rankings: West dominance

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 11 Power Rankings. Think we're way off? Agree with our picks? Hit us up on Twitter at@BullsTalkCSNwith comments or criticisms.
Past rankings:PreseasonWeek 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7 Week 8 Week 10 Week 11

Tony
MarkComments1
Tony:Durant is just flat out ridiculous.
Mark: The NBA Gods owe us another Thunder-Heat Finals.
2
Tony: Amazing that they didn't miss a beat with CP3 out.
Mark: The NBA Gods also owe us Thunder-Clippers in the Western Finals.
3
Tony: Tony Parker is having the best season of his career at age 30.
Mark: Danny Green needs to step up, but Duncan remains fantastic at 36.
4
Tony: Man, they really have the Bulls' number this year.
Mark: Heat won't move Chris Bosh, but interested to see how Birdman fits in middle.
5
Tony: LeBron has taken complete ownership of this team.
Mark: BIG overtime win over the Thunder on Sunday. Watch out for the Nugs.
6
Tony: Steph Curry's return is a huge boon. Can't afford to lose him.
Mark: Those defensive matchups like the one in Chicago on Saturday are fun.7
Tony: Felton supposedly coming back soon. Will be a boost.
Mark:Tyson Chandler's numbers being overshadowed by Melo's career year.8
Tony: Proving they're a legitimate contender with solid last couple of weeks.
Mark: Good to see Steph Curry back; Marc Jackson should be coach of the year.
9
Tony: D-Will is money at the charity stripe.
Mark: Could be the hottest team in the league right now.
10
Tony: George looks like a beast some nights, a non-factor others.
Mark: Nate can be one big headache at times, and win you games the next night.
11
Tony: Gritting out wins in Rose's absence.
Mark: Boylan seems to understand the roster better, or the team is rejuvenated post-Skiles.
12
Tony: Are they really more than just a .500 team?
Mark: Playing well, but I have concerns about how Granger could mess with George's game.
13
Tony: If Sullinger maintains production, will be key role player.
Mark: Could be one of the busiest teams at this year's trade deadline (Jefferson, Millsap).
14
Tony: Sanders has turned into a bonafide stud. Just has to improve offensive game.
Mark: Continue to fade fast, and losing Lou Williams (torn ACL) won't help matters.
15
Tony: Very good at home, but bad (9-11) on the road.
Mark: Three-game losing streak right after they looked to be turning the corner.
16
Tony: Batum playing heavy minutes in breakout year, but can't seem to stay healthy.
Mark: The pieces are there when healthy; a healthy Rubio may carry them to playoffs.
17
Tony: Lost 7 straight, but somehow still in 8-seed in West.
Mark: Terrible January after being the biggest surprise of the 2012 calendar.
18
Tony: What happened to the positive momentum they gained last season?
Mark: Worst bench in the league means starters won't make it all year.
19
Tony: Love still has 2 months until he's back on the court. Sigh.
Mark: Dirk hasn't been the guy the Mavs have needed, but they're not out of the hunt yet.
20
Tony: Really didn't see this poor season coming, you guys.
Mark: The Lakers in the Lottery. Sounds weird, but likely to happen.
21
Tony: Can Cousins stay out of trouble?
Mark:Have fun in Seattle, DeMarcus.
22
Tony: Just getting sad now. But only 3 games out of playoffs.
Mark: Time to get Andre Drummond more minutes, Detroit.
23
Tony: Would've been completely different season if Gordon starts healthy.
Mark:Bynum looks ready to return after the All-Star break; if that's the case, don't count them out.
24
Tony: Monroe is a stud, but players around him just too inconsistent.
Mark: Finally out of the cellar in the West, and have won 7 of 10.
25
Tony: 4-17 record in the US, but 11-9 in Canada.
Mark: Do they have to move Lowry or Calderon?
26
Tony: What's their plan for the future? 'Cause it's time to start thinking about that.
Mark:Unleash Moe Harkless!
27
Tony: Taken over the crown as the worst team in the west.
Mark:Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is only 19, but he's been a disappointment as the No. 2 pick.
28
Tony: Giving them the nod over WAS because of wins alone.
Mark: Varejao done for the year, but probably a good thing to rest his knee.
29
Tony: Wall is a big boost, but he can't do it all himself.
Mark: In the last 10 games, have doubled their win totals.
30
Tony: Kemba's rekindled early-season success, but not leading to any more wins.
Mark: Firing Alvin Gentry wasn't the answer, but it had to happen. Rock-bottom in PHX.

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.