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Marc Stein has Bulls 11th in Inaugural Power Rankings (5th in East)

According to Stein: "Maybe we expect too much to peg Deng for a seamless return from injury to replace Ben Gordon, but there's enough here regardless for modest improvement leading into the pivotal summer of 2010. More than enough."

Three rounds later, I have to make it clear I remain firmly in the camp which maintains that the...

Three rounds later, I have to make it clear I remain firmly in the camp which maintains that the Boston-Chicago series in Round 1 -- dramatic, historic and irresistibly terrific as it was -- needed to have a bigger impact on the championship itself to merit any Greatest Series Ever consideration. You are entitled to disagree, as always, but you are likewise invited to consider how quickly those teams faded from our consciousness as the playoffs progressed. The view here is that if the outcome had no real impact on the Eastern Conference bracket -- an indisputable reality given Garnett's absence -- it doesn't matter how many games went to overtime. The stakes simply weren't high enough to get Celtics-Bulls into the greatest-ever debate. None of that, though, would dare stop us from putting the Bulls -- pretty much all of them -- high on this list. Derrick Rose playing better in Games 1, 4 and 6 than he ever did during a regular season in which he was the rookie of the year, Joakim Noah suddenly looking like an NBA difference-maker, Ben Gordon performing under pressure -- these guys were catalysts for a postseason that was far more unpredictable than we were all expecting.

Where's my trophy?

Chicago (Illinois): How can you give O.J. Mayo the First Trimester ROY over [Derrick] Rose? Rose...

Chicago (Illinois): How can you give O.J. Mayo the First Trimester ROY over [Derrick] Rose? Rose (right) is a better all-around player who tries to get everyone involved. Mayo is just a scorer. I hope your decision wasn't based solely on the fact that Mayo leads all rookies in scoring. Marc Stein: Nope. That's not it. Mayo has been super efficient as a 20-point scorer, which is rare territory for rookies. He's been a much better 3-point shooter so far than anyone imagined. And don't forget that Rose is also surrounded by more established players, which has to make his transition to the NBA somewhat easier. The Grizz have been starting three rookies. Their point guard play has been a mess. It's far from an ideal situation -- Mayo is closer to being a veteran than a rookie on that team because the Grizz are so young -- and he's really been special offensively so far. I saw Mayo in his first NBA exhibition and, let me tell you, his progress from then to now is considerable. But we're still talking about a marginal difference between them ... and I'll admit that the lack of national attention O.J. gets playing in a market like Memphis, fair or not, factored into my thinking. I wanted to give him some recognition now because, let's face it, Rose has a huge advantage in the ROY race playing in a market like Chicago and on a team that will probably be in the playoff hunt all season. In short: I don't think Mayo has been sufficiently recognized for his fine start and giving him ROFT status was my opportunity to address that. Marc Stein
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