Power Rankings: Heat back at No. 1

Updated: November 1, 2013, 3:42 PM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com
Friday, September 27

You made it!

You survived another long, withering summer.

With seven teams holding their annual media day on this first Friday of fall, your 165-day wait for the return of ESPN.com's weekly NBA Power Rankings is mercifully over. A fresh batch of rankings is served up here with the Miami Heat taking their rightful place at the top of the ladder, followed closely in the top five by Indiana and Brooklyn in advance of what should be the tastiest race we've seen in the Eastern Conference for some time.

The West remains the far deeper conference, as it's basically been since the inception of your devoted committee (of one) starting with the 2002-03 season, but the East is where we see the most intrigue for a change, since there are potentially three teams -- depending on how closely Derrick Rose returns to his MVP best -- that can prevent Miami from even getting to a fourth successive NBA Finals.

The two-time champion Heat, however, naturally start at No. 1, which is a courtesy we always extend to the reigning champs no matter what they did in the offseason. And by now you surely know that this is where we'll meet up every Monday during the regular season to take the pulse of NBA teams from 1 down to 30, utilizing our trusted formula that computes each slot by weighing whats happening in the present in conjunction with that team's big-picture outlook for the season ... while always allowing for a dash of subjective whim..

Don't forget, furthermore, that this preseason edition of the rankings, as always, weighs a team's personnel successes (or failures) from the summer as well as injuries when making our calculations. That should help explain why the Pacers, Nets, Doc Rivers' Los Angeles Clippers and Dwight Howard's Houston Rockets have all climbed so high already. And also why the Kobe Bryant-less L.A. Lakers and Rajon Rondo-less Boston Celtics start so low.

The next edition of the rankings is scheduled for Oct. 28, on the eve of opening night, after we use the next month to get a better feel for everyone during exhibition play. You can comment below on the rankings, which are compiled with the usual helpful dishing from ESPN Stats & Info and the Elias Sports Bureau.

Editor's note: The "Last Week" category below is from the final Power Rankings of 2012-13 in April, while "Record" reflects how the team finished last season.

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