Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls halted their five-game losing streak by defeating Charlotte Monday night (Jacob Gaertner/Creative Commons).
A particularly tumultuous period sees the Warriors and Cavaliers dropping to their lowest positions of the season. Meanwhile, every other team has moved up or down at least one spot except for the Clippers and Hawks, who remained at No. 8 and 12, respectively. A handful of sub-.500 squads are recognized for their strong recent play, as the Grizzlies and Bulls are punished for their sluggish performances over the past two weeks. One final fun fact: Last edition, Chicago came in at No. 15, a full 10 spots ahead of the Hornets. This time around, Chicago clings to a single-spot lead over Charlotte after edging the Hornets Monday night.
Biggest Jumps: Milwaukee Bucks (+6), Minnesota Timberwolves (+5), Washington Wizards (+4)
Biggest Falls: Chicago Bulls (-6), Memphis Grizzlies (-5), Dallas Mavericks (-4), Indiana Pacers (-4), Toronto Raptors, (-4) Continue reading
Jimmy Butler has firmly established himself as an MVP candidate and the leader of the Chicago Bulls. (Jsteperry/Wikimedia Commons)
Subscribe on iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS
Following dramatic offseason changes, the Chicago Bulls have jumped out to a 10-6 start. At 34, future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade has returned to his hometown. Chicago also brought in former NBA champion Rajon Rondo, among others. Our guest, Ashish Mathur of the Outside Pitch Sports Network, details how Wade and Rondo have added a sense of accountability, what’s behind Jimmy Butler’s routine offensive outbursts and how the Bulls’ lack of depth could ultimately derail their high hopes. Plus, much more is discussed with Mathur, who is cautiously optimistic about 2016-17 given how early it is in the season and the team’s new-look quality. At times, he’s even bullish, but let’s get to the excerpts before any more questionable puns are employed:
1:48-3:04: Mathur begins by pointing out the necessity for the Bulls to trot out a completely different team this season and detailing what key additions Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo have brought: “The roster turnover was needed in every facet. Derrick [Rose] and Joakim [Noah] did a lot for this organization and city, but with Jimmy [Butler] establishing himself as the new alpha on the team, it was time for those two to go. Gar Forman and John Paxson did a pretty good job. Getting Rondo and Wade here was huge, just for the locker room. It was toxic and full of turmoil last year…not able to handle any adversity…it was time for a change. The biggest thing Wade and Rondo add to the team is accountability…First day of training camp, Rondo and Wade were stopping practices telling guys to knock it off and to stop the chit-chat, [because they’re] here to practice.”
3:57-4:58: Next, Mathur gushes about Butler’s transformation from defensive specialist to bona fide all-around superstar: “This guy came into the league as a defensive stopper, averaged 2 points per game his first year. He’s got to be one of the hardest working players, especially in the offseason…He got up at 4 in the morning every day and trained. He’s having fun this year. Last year, there was so much dysfunction…Last year was the first [time] Jimmy dealt with adversity in the NBA…He looks so much different. He’s smiling, loves having Wade on the team, and is putting up MVP-type numbers.”
Can the Chicago Bulls put together another strong season? (Jim Larrison/Creative Commons)
Subscribe on iTunes
This week, Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report, NBC Sports and Sports on Earth gives us a detailed glimpse into the Chicago Bulls, a talented team that returns much of its roster but is playing under a first-year NBA coach in Fred Hoiberg. Sean highlights the many differences between Hoiberg and his predecessor, Tom Thibodeau, including Hoiberg’s considerably more easy-going nature. He also provides us the latest on Derrick Rose and explains why Chicago’s dynamic offense could make up for most of what the team figures to lose on the defensive end. Among other topics, Sean breaks down the Bulls’ impressive depth in the frontcourt, touching upon why Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah have rarely taken the court together. Despite the Bulls’ 130-105 drubbing in Charlotte, which occurred shortly before the interview took place, Sean looks forward to another strong season in the Windy City.
Music: “Who Likes To Party” by Kevin MacLeod
(Mike Tipton/Creative Commons)
Subscribe on iTunes
In the J Spot, the panel continues the Kings discussion from earlier in the week, touching upon the Kings’ playoff hopes, Ben McLemore’s changing role given the improved guard depth, Rudy Gay’s seemingly newfound efficiency and how much it matters to have winning veterans on an up-and-coming team.
Next, on the A-A-Ron Block, the league’s seven new head coaches are analyzed. What can we expect from their respective squads, and who has the most pressure in their new role? Which coaches are taking over the best and worst teams?
Finally, with the NBA GM survey being released earlier this week, LLC Incorporated poses three original questions that should have been included on the actual survey. Well, maybe not, but they sure are fun ones.
Which NBA player or personality would YOU want to be your personal stylist? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter: @OnTheNBABeat
Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod