Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Bulls move up to No. 9, jumping the Brooklyn Nets, in SB Nation's latest NBA power rankings.
The Bulls went 2-1 this past week, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets after losing to the Los Angeles Clippers. Joakim Noah and Luol Deng continue to shoulder much of the offensive load for the Bulls, but Nate Robinson, Marquis Teague and Jimmy Butler have stepped up as key role players to contribute to the winning effort. The most notable improvement has been that of Marco Belinelli, who scored 16 points and 19 points in the two Bulls victories last week.
Rosenthal writes that the recent performance of the Chicago bench has almost compensated for the always looming absence of Derrick Rose. Almost:
Amid the lingering concern for Tom Thibodeau's abuse of his top players (Hi, Luol Deng! He's not waving back. He must be asleep), guys like Marco Belinelli (still succeeding to the point that I've learned to spell his last name on the first try), Jimmy Butler and even Marquis Teague have had useful stretches. The defense looks fully renewed and the Bulls are playing pretty impressive ball after some early-season moments in which it looked like they'd kinda suck without him. (Upon proofreading this section, I realized that I just said "him" without ever naming the "him" in question. Still don't feel like I need to explain myself.)
The Oklahoma City Thunder now sit at the top of the power rankings, replacing the San Antonio Spurs after a 2-0 week. The Spurs, who beat the Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics but lost to the Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers last week, dropped to No. 3. The New York Knicks stay at No. 2, while the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat round out the top five.
The entire NBA power rankings can be seen here.