Week 6 NBA Power Rankings

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Week 6 NBA Power Rankings

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 5 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  Week 1  Week 2  Week 3  Week 4  Week 5

  Tony
 Mark Comments 1
 Tony: Hottest team in the league right now.
 Mark: Eight straight wins for the West's best home team.
 2
 Tony: Riding a five-game winning streak behind Parker.
 Mark: Imagine how good they'll be when Kawhi Leonard comes back.
 3
 Tony: Dominated the Heat, but couldn't run with the Bulls.
 Mark: Wade's shot coming back around, prompting LeBron to tell Barkley to "shut up."
 4
 Tony: Dynamic team, but a bit inconsistent to start.
Mark: Looked fantastic without Carmelo, but they're glad to have the early season MVP back. 
 5
 Tony: Would be the class of the West if not for OKCSA.
 Mark: Six straight wins, led by a red-hot Blake Griffin.
 6
 Tony: Wow, when did they become THE team in L.A.?
 Mark: December has been a rough stretch. 7
 Tony: Have won 8 of 10 to put them among NBA's best.
 Mark: Huge jump this week, but it's deserved. You can thank Steph Curry. 8
 Tony: Really looking like a playoff team.
 Mark: Love what Lou Williams is doing for a bench that needs scoring. 9
 Tony: Still clutching first place, but not by much.
 Mark: Have lost 3 of 5, but the talent is still there.
 10
 Tony: Need to find a way to win on the road.
 Mark: Andray Blatche puts up decent numbers, but they need Brook Lopez back.
 11
 Tony: If Holiday goes down, they're doomed.
 Mark: Joakim Noah is a dark horse for MVP the way he's playing on both ends so far.
 12
 Tony: Four-game losing streak bumps them down.
 Mark: Dead last in rebounds per game.
 13
 Tony: Have won three straight to climb over .500.
 Mark: Larry Sanders leads the NBA in blocks per game. Read that again.
 14
 Tony: HomeRoad splits are scary.
 Mark: Nash still 2 weeks away, which means L.A. is 2 weeks away from turning this around.
 15
 Tony: Not time to push panic button, but at least time to bring it out of storage.
 Mark: Won 4 of 5 to start December. 16
 Tony: Need to get their frontcourt rotation nailed down.
 Mark: Al Jefferson quietly putting together a monster season for the Jazz.
 17
 Tony: Just too inconsistent right now, but will be there in the end.
 Mark: Defense keeping them in the playoff hunt.
 18
 Tony: They're starting to get healthier, playoff push time?
 Mark: Ty Lawson picking things up lately.
 19
 Tony: Ninth out of 9 teams vying for playoff spots in the East.
 Mark: T-Wolves can't wait to get Rubio back, other 29 teams just fine waiting.
 20
 Tony: They can't even win when Lin puts up 38. Ouch.
 Mark: Omer Asik now hitting 17-footers in Houston. Convinced he was trolling Chicago.
 21
 Tony: See? Can't hack it when injuries hit because of lack of depth.
 Mark: They're winning games lately (3-of-5), but not playing anyone good (CLE, CHA, TOR).
 22
 Tony: Best of the worst in the East.
 Mark: Likely Lottery-bound, but this is an impressive turnaround led by Greg Monroe.
 23
 Tony: They have talent, but that's about it.
 Mark: Anthony Davis has the talent to turn the tides for the Pelicans Hornets.
 24
 Tony: Been better of late since their horrendous start.
 Mark: 3-2 on recent West roadtrip was nice to see. Still haven't played at home in Dec.
 25
 Tony: Getting Anthony Davis back. Eric Gordon on the horizon?
 Mark: Had won three in a row before loss in Dallas.
 26
 Tony: Have lost eight straight after their 7-5 start.
 Mark: Fast start was fun, but reality setting in fast on Mike Dunlap's group.
 27
 Tony: What are they doing with Marcin Gortat? Do they even know?
 Mark: Injuries just won't let this team play healthy together.
 28
 Tony: Kyrie coming back, but he can't do it alone.
 Mark: 5-5 at home, but just 2-11 away from Phoenix.
 29
 Tony: All the big offseason acquisitions haven't helped, huh?
 Mark: Still think Tristan Thompson has the skill set to be a star in the NBA.
 30
 Tony: Just flat-out awful. What is there to say?
 Mark: Injuries continue to decimate an already-shallow roster.

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

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The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

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