Power Rankings: Knicks rising, Nuggets falling in opening week


Power Rankings: Knicks rising, Nuggets falling in opening week

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 2 Power Rankings. Think we're way off? Agree with our picks? Hit us up on Twitter at @BullsTalkCSN with comments or criticisms.
Past rankings: Preseason

 Mark Comments 1
 Tony: The class of the NBA so far. Parker is on fire.
 Mark: Parker, Duncan out to prove age never a factor in San Antonio.
 Tony: That blowout loss to NYK bumps them down a peg.
 Mark: Hiccup in New York, still look like team to beat in the East.
 Tony: Chris Paul will be in the MVP discussion all year.
 Mark: Jamal Crawford for (very) early Sixth Man of the Year?
 Tony: Not a great record to start, but will right the ship. Mark: Carmelo hasn't slowed down since the Olympics as Knicks beat Heat, Sixers.
 Tony: More concerned about Nash's injury over 1-3 start.
 Mark: Still figuring out life post-Harden, but Durant's rebounding numbers impressive.
 Tony: Really beat up on MIA. Will Felton stick at PG?
 Mark: Granger's knee starting to be a concern. 7
 Tony: This is Paul George's breakout season.
 Mark: Not worried about sluggish start. 8
 Tony: Closely watching Deron Williams' ankle.
 Mark: Very tough schedule to open season, but Iguodala and Lawson look great.
 Tony: Really needed that win at home against New Orleans.
 Mark: Move over Boston: Brooklyn's herringbone court the best in the game.
 Tony: This is my surprise team to make the playoffs. Love the talent.
 Mark: Not time to panic just yet, but Nash (leg) could miss 4 weeks.
 Tony: Once they get Dirk back, they'll be Top 10 team.
 Mark: Jrue Holiday is a franchise point guard.
 Tony: Lou Williams a great fit for this offense.
 Mark: Jae Crowder a pleasant surprise off the bench; Mayo looking like a FA steal.
 Tony: Remember when people said Harden wasn't worth a max deal?
 Mark: Grizzlies right where they should be.
 Tony: Great starting 5, but they don't have depth.
 Mark: Huge win over the Thunder; even more impressive doing it without Josh Smith.
 Tony: Off to a really good start. Jennings looks smarter, better.
 Mark: Nice 2-0 start, but where is Ilyosova?
 Tony: Horrendous start to the year, but will figure it out.
 Mark: Offense hasn't found rhythm yet, but defense looks solid early.
 Tony: Need to shore up their defense.
 Mark: Brandon Rush (torn ACL) will be missed.
 Tony: This may be Jrue Holiday's breakout season.
 Mark: So James Harden was worth 80 million, huh Oklahoma City?
 Tony: Will struggle in the powerhouse West.
 Mark: Damian Lillard is for real, and could make a push for Rookie of the Year honors.
 Tony: I think Mo williams is glad to be running the point again.
 Mark: Interior offense, not Mo Williams, the problem early on.
 Tony: Just need to stay around .500 until LoveRubio get back.
 Mark: Almost went 3-0 to open season, but lost late lead to San Antonio.
 Tony: Off to a great start, even with Gordon out indefinitely.
 Mark: Kyle Lowry looking like one of the biggest steals of the offseason.
 Tony: Luis Scola looks reborn right now.
 Mark: Looks like Love will miss the full six weeks recovering from broken hand.
 Tony: I like this team, but postseason may still be a year away.
 Mark: Arron Afflalo, Glen Davis and J.J. Redick all performing well for 2-0 Magic.
 Tony: Young team, but still not quite playoff-ready.
 Mark: Michael Beasley could average 18 points per game in this offense.
 Tony: Surprising start led by J.J. Redick's sharpshooting.
 Mark: Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao are by themselves in this fight.
 Tony: Kemba is turning into a star.
 Mark: Pistons have played a tough schedule, but haven't looked good in losses, either.
 Tony: Will rack up a lot of losses this year.
 Mark: There's no discipline in Sacramento, and Kings won't go anywhere until DMC grows up.
 Tony: They need their playmaker back.
 Mark: Opening night win took everything out of them; lost to Dallas by 26 the next night.
 Tony: Rodney Stuckey is off to an ugly, ugly start.
 Mark: John Wall can't return soon enough.

Cubs not surprised 'good dude' Mike Napoli is on another winning team

Cubs not surprised 'good dude' Mike Napoli is on another winning team

CLEVELAND — As the Cubs readied themselves to play in the franchise’s first World Series game since 1971, a number of players were able to look over at the Cleveland Indians and seen an opposing team transformed by good-dude-in-chief Mike Napoli.

Those players, specifically, were catcher David Ross and starters Jon Lester and John Lackey, all of whom teamed up with Napoli to win the 2013 World Series with the Boston Red Sox. 

“I know their players are going to be ready just based on one player alone and that’s Mike Napoli, I know what he brings to the table,” Lester said during the Cubs’ pennant-clinching celebration. “He helped transform our 2013 team.”

Napoli’s impact on the 2016 Indians stretches beyond his career high totals in home runs (34), RBIs (102) and runs (92). While he was only worth 1.0 WAR despite those gaudy totals, Napoli’s unquantifiable presence on the field and in the clubhouse helped keep Cleveland from breaking apart despite injuries to outfielder Michael Brantley and starting pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. 

“Having a guy that’s playing every day can unify the group is really tremendous,” Indians hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo said. “I think it’s undervalued sometimes.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Napoli played a key part in the Red Sox’ worst-to-first turnaround in 2013, quickly becoming a leader in a clubhouse Lackey said was a “zoo.” It was one of the 34-year-old’s best seasons in the majors, too — he hit 23 home runs with an .842 OPS — and he became a guy his teammates knew they could trust to come through in key situations. 

“He’s a guy you want in your foxhole,” Lackey said. “He’s a winner. He steps up in big situations and wants to be in them. I’m not surprised to see him on another winning team for sure.”

Ross sees a lot of Napoli in the personality first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who’s emerged as one of the Cubs’ best leaders during their rapid ascendance to the top of the National League over the last two years. 

“When you do things with Rizzo off the field, you have a good time. Napoli’s one of those guys (too),” Ross said. “No matter what you’re doing, you’re going to enjoy yourself. He’s one of those guys you’re like, Yep, I gotta have Napoli go with me, I gotta have Rizz go with me, because we’re going to have fun.”

A few minutes after Ross, Lester and Lackey filed out of Progressive Field’s posh club lounge, Napoli walked in wearing a Party at Napoli’s T-shirt. Ross said he wanted to get his hands on one of those shirts in time for Monday’s World Series media day, but had to settle for wearing a Cubs hoodie. But the whole “Party at Napoli’s” thing encompasses why he’s been such a good fit in clubhouses in Cleveland, Boston, and everywhere else he’s been in the majors. 

“I’m just myself,” Napoli said. “I like to have a good time, I enjoy my teammates on and off the field.”

Said Lackey: “He’s a great teammate, a gamer and just a good dude.”

Cubs announce lineup for Game 1 of the World Series...and yes Kyle Schwarber is in it

Cubs announce lineup for Game 1 of the World Series...and yes Kyle Schwarber is in it

CLEVELAND - Kyle Schwarber is in the Cubs starting lineup for the first time since April 7.

It just so happens to also be the Cubs' first World Series starting lineup since 1945.

The Cubs released Joe Maddon's Game 1 lineup against Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians Tuesday afternoon ahead of a historic World Series matchup.

Schwarber is hitting fifth at DH:

1. Dexter Fowler - CF
2. Kris Bryant - 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
4. Ben Zobrist - LF
5. Kyle Schwarber - DH
6. Javy Baez - 2B
7. Chris Coghlan - RF
8. Addison Russell - SS
9. David Ross - C

And Jon Lester is on the mound.

Schwarber is already the Cubs' all-time leader in postseason homers with five longballs in last season's playoff run.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Coghlan in the lineup is also a surprise as defensive stalwart Jason Heyward gets the boot to the bench for the second straight game.

The Cubs put Albert Almora Jr. in right field at Wrigley Saturady night when they beat Clayton Kershaw and locked up the NLCs.

Heyward is hitting .071 with a .312 OPS in the postseason, collecting only two hits and a walk in 10 games.

Coghlan has appeared in five games - all as a pinch-hitter - and is 0-for-4 with a walk and a run. 

The Cubs have scored 23 runs in the last three games after being shut out in 21 straight innings prior to that.