CBS Sports released their power rankings, putting the Sixers at 16th - a four spot bump from last week and ahead of a number of teams that are typically thought of as better, like the Suns and Rockets. They also highlighted them as one of six teams who should be better in 2011. Here's a blurb.
Once again, Doug Collins is working his first-year magic in Philly, even if we're just beginning to see the results. Recent wins over the Magic, Nuggets and Suns have brought to light two things: 1) Jrue Holiday is awfully good; and 2) this athletically gifted bunch will be a handful once Andre Iguodala returns to the lineup.
The article fails to mention that wins over the Magic and Nuggets were primarily because both teams were missing key players. But in light of the recent publicity for Jrue at NBA Fanhouse, these Sixers are starting to be recognized as a team on the rise rather than a team bogged down with bad contracts and no future. That being said, I wouldn't go so far as to say they are better than the Knicks, to which this article alludes.
[The Knicks] figure to go down a lot easier than the fast-rising 76ers.
I don't put always put a lot of stock in the idea of a "team identity" but in this case New York has a much better idea of their strengths and a coach that knows how to play to those strengths than Doug Collins does for us. Not saying Mike D'Antoni is a better coach, he's just got a better handle on how to use his personnel. Collins is still figuring that out.
Either way it's good to see these Sixers being recognized for their recent improvements, but hopefully it won't be at the cost of trading Andre for a first round playoff exit.