Top ranking not important to Parker

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Top ranking not important to Parker

Jabari Parker will have an MRI on his right heel this week, and it will most likely keep him out of the upcoming July evaluation period. It could also mean the 6-foot-8 forward loses his top spot at the No. 1 recruit in the 2013 class.
Parker's father, Sonny, told ESPN Chicago his son is more worried about getting healthy and winning a fourth straight state championship for Simeon than he is about subjective rankings from recruiting experts.
And if recent major talent from Chicago has proven anything, it's that having the top spot does not mean all that much.
Rivals.com had Rose ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect in the 2007 recruiting class, behind Michael Beasley and Eric Gordon. All Rose has done since then is lead the Memphis Tigers to the national championship game, earn Rookie of the Year honors and be named MVP two years ago in the NBA.
Chicago native Anthony Davis was not the consensus No. 1 overall prospect, either. Winter Park, Fla.'s Austin Rivers was ranked No. 1 by some recruiting services, including Rivals. The next year, Davis led the Kentucky Wildcats to a national championship, Davis was named National Player of the Year and, in June, was selected No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Hornets.
So when Parker says he does not care about the No. 1 overall ranking, he's not only genuine about it, he's right.
Julius Randle, a 6-foot-9 forward from Texas, is currently ranked No. 2 by most recruiting outlets. He'll choose where he attends school, holding scholarship offers from just about every blue blood school in the country.
Where Parker is more fundamentally sound and rounded out as a player, Randle may be more athletic and has a flair for the dramatic. That alone should put him over the top as the No. 1 ranked recruit, given the free-flowing, open style of AAU basketball.
Point guard Andrew Harrison or his brother, Aaron, also have chances to take over the top spot should Parker lose it.
But whoever goes into the fall season with the top spot, Parker doesn't mind.
"Right now, he's not caught up in the rankings. He's so concerned about winning that state championship for a fourth year," Sonny told ESPN Chicago. "That's more important than the ranking stuff. People are putting it out there because they want something to talk about."

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

No matter the metric or the occasion, the only thing definitive about the Bulls over the last two seasons has been their mystifying dominance over the Cleveland Cavaliers in head-to-head matchups.

That, and their fascinating streak of consecutive wins while playing at home on TNT, a streak that could end at 19 games Thursday night when the two teams with varying objectives clash at the United Center.

The Cavaliers are searching to find themselves, along with a light switch that will perhaps alert them to a lost defense over the past several weeks that has been worst in the league since the All-Star break.

The Bulls are searching for consistency, but since it’s probably a little too late in the season for that, they’ll settle for a playoff spot with eight games left.

They’ll take two straight wins for the first time in a month, if they can get it.

They’ll extend a goofy streak, if that’s what things will come down to.

“The big thing is obviously you have to execute very well against this Cleveland team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You have to go out there with great urgency, great energy. I anticipate them coming in and playing with a ton of energy tomorrow. We’re going to have to match that. We’re going to have to come out and play physical basketball.”

Having a big break between games this late in the season is a rarity, as the Bulls have been off since Sunday evening, but it’s just another weird detail in this weird Bulls experience.

An experience that the mild-mannered Hoiberg has to experience from his couch some nights, such as watching the Miami Heat furiously steal a game in Detroit at the buzzer with a Hasaan Whiteside tip-in to extend a lead over his team to a game, followed by another win Wednesday to put more distance between the two teams.

“I did, actually,” said Hoiberg with a smirk when asked if he’s scoreboard watching and paying attention to the teams ahead of the Bulls in the playoff race.

After being prompted to give his raw emotions when Whiteside’s tip-in occurred, he slipped right back to Robo-Hoiberg—although one can imagine how animated he must’ve been while looking to catch a break from a previous contender for the eighth spot in the Pistons.

“It is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “You have to go out and worry about yourselves at this time of year. It was a great finish for Miami, obviously, the way that game ended. But there’s nothing you can do about that. You’ve got to worry about yourselves and hopefully go out and execute.”

Going 6-1 against the Cavaliers in his two seasons as Bulls coach is probably the biggest feather in his cap, including three wins in all three meetings this go round.

The rhyme or reason doesn’t seem explainable, but Nikola Mirotic seemed to give a few keys to the Bulls’ success over LeBron James’ Cavaliers: Sharing the ball, controlling the glass and getting back on defense.

“Against big teams, we play much better,” Mirotic said. “I don’t know why is the reason for that. We need to find a way to play against everybody like that. It’s on us. We just have to prove it.”

Usually, those tenets seem to work against most teams, not just the supremely talented champions who’ve just lost a grip on first place in the conference.

But their inconsistencies have left the Bulls here with a handful of games left before the April 12th finale.

A win over Cleveland could mean everything, or nothing at all, or something in between.

“Sure, we understand,” Mirotic said. “We’ve been in a very similar situation last year. We didn’t make the playoffs so this year we want to try to make that push. I think we have a good schedule for the last. Very important game tomorrow, huge one. I think we have played very well against Cleveland until now. We have a chance. We need to get out there and play with energy.” 

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