Contenders or pretenders?

With the expected powers in both conferences struggling and unlikely teams off to strong starts, there never has been a larger pool of potential NBA championship contenders.

With the help of advanced stats, including Pythagorean win expectation based on point differential and a measure of schedule strength based on opponent and location, let's see if we can separate any pretenders out from this group.

Here's a look at 11 teams that warrant inclusion in the contender-pretender debate based on early results from the 2014-15 campaign.

Chicago Bulls

Record: 8-4
Pythagorean record: 7-5
Schedule strength: -1.6 (25th)

The Bulls' start hasn't quite been as good as their record would indicate. They've only been decent against one of the league's weakest schedules. But wins at Toronto and against the Clippers in L.A. suggest Chicago's potential -- particularly if Derrick Rose can stay in the lineup. That's the $19 million question.