I don’t know how many times it can be said, but the opening salvo for the Philadelphia 76ers was about as good as it could get for a team that was ranked dead last in nearly every preseason NBA poll, was given 9,999-1 odds of winning the NBA title this year by Vegas, and had an over/under win-loss total of 16. Or, if you were all in for the 0-82 method, things couldn’t have gone much worse.
They ran the gauntlet in their first three games (Miami, @ Washington, and Chicago) and managed to come out 3-0 on the other side of all of that, largely due to the incredible performances by a rookie point guard, a former number-two overall pick, and a big man that was widely criticized for playing too soft last year.
No matter what happens the rest of the year (which will likely involve a lot of losses—like the one their in line for tonight against Iggy and the visiting Warriors—and a fair amount of tiny ping pong balls in the Wiggins lottery) the Sixers will always have the first week of the 2013-14 season to look back on and cherish. You know you’ve done something special when you’ve literally flipped the tables on just about every NBA power ranking that exists in the sports world. For real though:
Pro Basketball Talk
And then there’s ESPN, who’s always had a vendetta against Philly and just likes to be the different kid in school, pouring ice down your pants:
Top 10? I’ll take it, I guess.
The awards didn’t end there, though.
Michael Carter-Williams, the rookie point guard out of Syracuse, was named the Eastern Conference player of the week for the first week of the season, in his first week of professional basketball competition. The last (and only) time that a rook accomplished this feat was during the 1992-93 season when a young kid named Shaquille O’Neal did it for Orlando. MCW, the 11th overall pick in June, averaged 21 points, nine assists, five rebounds and over four steals per game over the first three games. His 22 points were the most by a Sixers rookie in their debut since Iverson put up 30 against the Milwaukee Bucks in 1996, and he was the first rookie since Maurice Cheeks in the 1978-79 season to post a double-double in his debut—the kid was a steal away from a triple double, and could’ve conceivably posted a quadruple double.
The future is so incredibly bright for this team.