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?

Injury clouds may be disappearing over (some) Bears

Injury clouds may be disappearing over (some) Bears

The daily litany of injuries and practice limitations through training camp and to this point of preseason have been stories. But they typically do not take on real significance until about this time of the football year, when teams swing onto final approach for their first regular-season game.

Against that backdrop, the Bears’ injury forecast was trending the right direction on Monday when No. 1 tight end Zach Miller and No. 1 nickel receiver Eddie Royal, both out for extended periods going through the team’s concussion protocol, were practicing without the don’t-hit-me red practice jerseys they were in as recently as last week.

Right guard Kyle Long, down with a shoulder injury since the New England game, was not in practice pads Monday but trotted over to a nearby goalpost at one point during practice, got into his stance and delivered a couple of linemen “punches” to the padding.

All three are vital components of a struggling offense in desperate need of impact players at any position.

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Rookie linebacker Leonard Floyd, held out of the Kansas City game on Saturday with hamstring soreness, was in uniform as well. Cornerback Kyle Fuller, who had knee surgery two weeks ago, was out running laps around the practice field, although he remains a longshot to be active for the Sept. 11 opener in Houston.

The situation was less encouraging for linebacker Pernell McPhee, who continues to do only controlled running and cutting along the sidelines as he works back from knee surgery in January. Chances of his return for the start of the regular season appear next to nil.

“We’ve got some avenues that we’re going to have to decide here as we cut down [the roster] to the 53 and some time from now, so I don’t like making those decisions now,” said coach John Fox. “But we’ll continue to evaluate him. There are options. He did start [training camp] on PUP [physically unable to perform]. We have a lot of options and we’ll do what’s best for us and him.”

The team has kept details of McPhee’s procedure and injury in-house. But teammate Willie Young, whose 2014 season ended with an Achilles injury of his own, offered a perspective that hinted at how serious McPhee’s injury may have been.

“It’s a credit to him, because to bounce back from any what used to be career-ending injuries is a challenge,” Young said, adding, “but he’s on course, I would say.”

Badgers linebacker T.J. Edwards won't play in opener vs. LSU

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Badgers linebacker T.J. Edwards won't play in opener vs. LSU

Wisconsin will be without last season's leading tackler when it opens the season Saturday at Lambeau Field.

Head coach Paul Chryst told reporters Monday that linebacker T.J. Edwards won't play this weekend against LSU.

Edwards led the Badgers with 84 tackles last season. He fractured his foot during the summer, didn't practice at all during fall camp and isn't on the team's most recent depth chart.

Jack Cichy and Chris Orr are listed as Wisconsin's two starting inside linebackers on the current depth chart.

The Badgers have a tough test to open the 2016 campaign. The Tigers are ranked as the No. 5 team in the preseason AP poll and boast one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy in running back Leonard Fournette.

Amid 0-3 preseason carnage, Bears believe one positive can be building block

Amid 0-3 preseason carnage, Bears believe one positive can be building block

With the No. 1 units in all three phases generally done for the 2016 preseason, one of the few stats that coaches and teams focus on can be analyzed for a Bears team that doesn’t have a lot of numerical results worth noting.

Through three preseason losses the Bears curiously have a plus-1 turnover ratio, taking the ball away from opponents. Through three games last year the Bears stood at plus-6 after a 2-1 point of a preseason in which coach John Fox sought to change a losing culture with an aggressive preseason approach.

Why this matters in a preseason of failures is this: Of the 15 teams with negative turnover totals, only one had a winning record. Not that a positive preseason means regular-season success, as the Bears demonstrated last year.

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But while the Bears offense has done precious little with the football when it’s had it, at least it is not giving it to opponents. Brian Hoyer has thrown the only two interceptions in 96 throws by Bears quarterbacks, a rate of 2.1 percent.

The defense has been without starting cornerback Kyle Fuller and No. 1 nickel corner Bryce Callahan for the past two games, and top corner Tracy Porter for game one and part of game three, the latter because of a concussion.

Still, members of the defense, which has produced two interceptions and two fumble recoveries through three games, have noticed a difference this year from last year’s first in a 3-4 base defense.

“Faster, that’s the main thing,” said defensive tackle Will Sutton. “A year under my belt in the system, you’re not thinking as much because you should know the plays. I can play a lot faster because I know how the blocks are being made against this type of defense, for instance.”

[RELATED: Wrapping up Bears-Chiefs: Not all bad, so why not find some good?]

The results have not yet been reflected in points, yardage or wins. But within the defense, players believe that team speed has been increased along with reaction speed, breaks on the ball and other elements that go into producing takeaways.

“Absolutely,” said linebacker Willie Young. “We’ve got a couple more guys who are more familiar with the scheme this year, including myself and [linebacker Lamarr] Houston, who obviously got off to a slow start last year.

“But we do have a lot more guys in position who are more familiar with the defensive scheme. So it allows you to fill a bit faster, a little more confidence.”