NBA Power Rankings: NBA Finals rematch on deck?

956341.png

NBA Power Rankings: NBA Finals rematch on deck?

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@BullsTalkCSNwith comments or criticisms.
Past rankings:PreseasonWeek 1Week 2Week 3 Week 4

Tony
MarkComments1
Tony:Five-game winning streak pushes them to No. 1.
Mark:Point-differential (9.8) best in the NBA by more than a point (NYK: 8.2)
2
Tony:Hottest team in the NBA, led by Mr. Sportsman of the Year.
Mark:Best record in the West, and maybe the best defense in the NBA.
3
Tony:Nearly unbeatable at home (8-1).
Mark:Westbrook's improvement nearly as impressive as Durant's.
4
Tony:Only lost by 5 to Heat on the road without 4 best players? This is a good team.
Mark:Thursday night's game in Miami will be a good test.
5
Tony:Carmelo will definitely be getting some MVP votes.
Mark:Hey, Stern: The rest worked. Spurs beat Memphis in overtime on Saturday.
6
Tony:Basketball is back in the Big Apple.
Mark: Three-game win streak after losing four in a row after last week.7
Tony:Still hot, but just not as sizzling as teams above them.
Mark:Blatche has played well in Lopez's absence.8
Tony:Remember, they're doing this all without Bynum.
Mark:Evan Turner may be the league's most improved player.
9
Tony:Cracking the Top 10, and they deserve it.
Mark:Won six in a row before a home loss to the Cavaliers. Huh?
10
Tony:Getting hot as season picks up. 7-3 since 2-2 start.
Mark:Stephen Curry's ankles look healthy...for now.
11
Tony:Still hovering around .500. Will age catch up to them?
Mark:Losses at Utah, Golden State and Los Angeles were disappointing for talented roster.
12
Tony:Very well balanced team just hitting its stride.
Mark:Rondo coming back after two-game suspension.
13
Tony:Clawed their way back to over .500.
Mark:Belinelli, Butler need to step up while Hamilton recovers from foot injury.
14
Tony:This is just getting sad now.
Mark:Larry Sanders quietly third in the league in blocks per game (3.0).
15
Tony:Just gotta stay afloat 'til Dirk returns.
Mark:Pau is out withtendinitis, but he wasn't doing much in D'Antoni's system.16
Tony:They'll continue to stay alive in what will prove to be close Central race.
Mark:Won four of their last five, all at home.
17
Tony:Bad news about Favors, just as he was coming into his own.
Mark:Lucky to be in the Central, where they're still competing with Granger on the bench.
18
Tony:Still underperforming, but right in the thick of playoff chase.
Mark:Nice revenge win last week against Los Angeles for Randy Foye, Mo Williams.
19
Tony:Omer Asik is a double-double every night.
Mark:Rubio likely less than two weeks away.
20
Tony:Love is back, Rubio on the way.
Mark:They've lost 4 of 6, and now head to the West coast.
21
Tony:Starting to revert back to form with four-game losing streak.
Mark:Back-to-back overtime wins at CLE and CHA after losing four in a row. Not great.
22
Tony:Finding a way to win some close games so far.
Mark:Have now lost four in a row, and five of six.
23
Tony:Allowing the most points per game in NBA.
Mark:Nice road wins over Los Angeles and Golden State to start five-game roadtrip.
24
Tony:Have quietly started another winning streak.
Mark:Three-game losing streak, and the schedule gets tougher from here.
25
Tony:They've really turned things around in a hurry.
Mark:Now have a winning record (6-5) since winless start through eight games.
26
Tony:Have lost 9 of 11 since 3-2 start.
Mark:Anthony Davis injuries starting to be a concern?
27
Tony:Having real issues distributing on offense (last in NBA in assists per game).
Mark:The fourth Jonas brother, Valanciunas, is improving each week.
28
Tony:Have dropped 7 of 8 as inconsistency shows.
Mark:Isaiah Thomas a real disappointment early this season.
29
Tony:They just look lost without Kyrie.
Mark:Anderson Varejao will be an enticing trade candidate at the deadline.
30
Tony:Hey! They won a game!
Mark:Injuries continue to decimate an already-shallow roster.

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win, Jimmy Butler starts All-Star Game

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win, Jimmy Butler starts All-Star Game

Here are some of Sunday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

Patrick Kane leads Blackhawks to win in Buffalo homecoming

What Joe Maddon wants to see next from Javier Baez

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

Wojnarowski: Bulls-Celtics Jimmy Butler trade talks 'will loom over the entire week'

After surreal offseason, Ben Zobrist comes to Cubs camp in style as World Series MVP

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

Fire score five goals for fourth preseason win

Simeon beats rival Morgan Park for city championship

Former Northwestern football player Torri Stuckey now focuses on helping others

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

NEW ORLEANS — Every All-Star isn’t created equal, even by the slimmest of margins as the best 24 NBA players take their turn on the midseason stage.

So Jimmy Butler being announced among the first five as an All-Star starter had to represent some form of validation, now that he’s not a novice at the whole experience and he’s able to go through the motions of the hectic weekend without breaking much of a sweat.

But despite being a three-time All-Star and routinely mentioned as one of the game’s top 15 players or even top 10, he can’t shake the trade rumors that have seemed to follow him since this time last season.

As he finished up his All-Star experience at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, clarity was nowhere to be found—although heading to some tropical island for a couple days to actually unwind with clear water and warm air seemed to be the best therapy if he’s stressed by the uncertainty of the next few days.

“What’s Thursday? Oh, trade deadline,” Butler said. “I don’t know. I don’t know. Am I anxious? Come on, man. I don’t worry about it. It don’t bother or scare me none.”

“Hopefully I’m not going to get traded but I don’t know. I don’t control that. Control what I can control, like going on vacation.”

Surely it has to be frustrating for a guy who’s elevated his game yet again, averaging 24.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals for the Bulls in 51 games. But he refuses to let it damper his All-Star spirits, playing with some of the best players in the world and a few guys he calls friends, like DeAndre Jordan and Kevin Durant.

“Not for me,” said Butler of the potential stress. “Not saying I’m untradeable but I don’t think about that. If I’m not in a Bulls uniform, I’ll give you a hug and say goodbye to you.”

Moments after Butler made his statement in the media room, the floodgates opened for the trade market as fellow Olympian DeMarcus Cousins was traded from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans for what seemed to be mere fodder, pennies on the dollar for the most talented center in the NBA.

[SHOP: Get your Bulls gear right here]

While Cousins is far more of a handful than Butler could be, the trade almost signals a consistent truth that always bears repeating—that short of a select few, anybody can be traded.

Even a franchise altering talent like Cousins, who was traded to the city he was physically in for All-Star weekend, and included in the package of players was a guy who hit him in the groin last week (Buddy Hield), resulting in a Cousins outburst and ejection.

Butler has made his name with the Bulls, although not necessarily on the All-Star stage, a player who values defense and doesn’t have as much flash as some of the game’s shinier players.

With a six-point outing in 20 minutes, Butler was an on-court afterthought despite being a starter for the first time.

“Six? Should’ve gone for eight,” he sarcastically deadpanned.

In a relatively jovial mood through the weekend, Butler joked about the talk surrounding him and tried to brush it off as mere chatter as opposed to the franchise not seeing enough in him to make a firm commitment for the long-term, as the Boston Celtics are always hovering.

League sources expect the Celtics to engage the Bulls in conversations for the next few days, but nobody has a great feel for what either side is truly looking for.

But as Butler insisted, he’s only controlling what he can control, which is making himself a fixture for All-Star games to come as opposed to some of the first-timers who don’t know if they’ll get back here again.

“I think I got two underneath my belt,” Butler said. “I know what they’re feeling the first time, It’s so surreal like maybe I do belong here. That’s how I was thinking. Now it’s how do I get here every year? I think that’s the fun part, that’s the challenge. A lot of those guys have done it 10-plus years, hopefully I’m one.”

The only question seems to be, which uniform will it be in because the crazy season has begun.