Power Rankings: Indy On The Rise

Updated: November 4, 2013, 6:05 PM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com
Monday, Nov. 4

As fate would have it Saturday night, your trusty NBA Power Rankings committee (of one) crossed paths with our old friend John Hollinger just as those stunning Philadelphia 76ers were rallying past the Chicago Bulls to move to an unfathomable 3-0.

Now vice president of basketball operations for the Memphis Grizzlies, after all those years as the patriarch of ESPN's daily automated NBA Power Rankings -- which are coming back soon to complement this weekly version -- Hollinger couldn't help but chuckle at the quandary Philly's early success has thrust upon yours truly.

And here's why: ESPN's weekly edition of the NBA Power Rankings, as you surely know by now, always measures what we're seeing in the present (Philly's fairy-tale start) against every team's big-picture projected ceiling (which in the Sixers' case is the top of next spring's lottery). Brett Brown and his young team, however, didn't just uncork those one or two "funky" results -- to steal Hollinger's word -- that you get during the opening week of the season. The Sixers, with a roster folks were openly scoffing at a week ago, upset the two-time reigning champs from Miami, one of the Heat's top rivals (Chicago) and a team (Washington) that is supposed to challenge for a playoff berth ... coming back from big deficits in all three victories and with rookie Michael Carter-Williams putting up historically crazy numbers along the way as Philly's new star-is-born trigger man.

So ...

The Sixers have been bumped all the way up to a spot in the hallowed top 10 this week, which has to be one of the biggest leaps we've ever authorized. If you were hoping to see them even higher, I totally understand, but we're sorry: It's going to take more than three funky results for us to divorce the principles we've applied to these rankings for more than a decade and promote them all the way into the upper crust.

Something tells me that the 20-spot jump from last Monday's poll will nonetheless allow the Sixers to upstage the season's first change at the top: Indiana has climbed five spots to No. 1 while Miami dips to No. 5. The Sixers' thoroughly unforeseen climb will also undoubtedly overshadow big leaps for Houston (No. 5 to No. 2) and Minnesota (No. 12 to No. 3), too. And rightfully so after Philly erased a nine-point deficit entering the fourth quarter to beat the Heat; Miami had won 48 straight games in which it had led by at least nine points after three.

These rankings, as always, were compiled with the ever-helpful assisting that comes from ESPN Stats & Information and the Elias Sports Bureau. You can click here to rank the teams yourself until we return next Monday with a fresh 1-to-30 pulse take of the league.


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