Posted by: Derek S. on August 17th, 2012The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
The Future Power Rankings are ESPN Insider’s projection of the on-court success expected for each team in the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
HOW FUTURE POWER RATING IS DETERMINED
|PLAYERS (0 to 600 points): Current players and their potential for the future, factoring in expected departures|
|MANAGEMENT (0 to 200 points): Quality and stability of front office, ownership, coaching|
|MONEY (0 to 200 points): Projected salary-cap situation; ability and willingness to exceed cap and pay luxury tax|
|MARKET (0 to 100 points): Appeal to future acquisitions based on team quality, franchise reputation, city’s desirability as a destination, market size, taxes, business and entertainment opportunities, arena quality, fans|
|DRAFT (0 to 100 points): Future draft picks; draft positioning|
Consider this a convenient way to see the direction in which your favorite team is headed.
Each of the NBA’s 30 teams received an overall Future Power Rating of 0 to 1,200, based on how well we expect each team to perform in the three seasons after this season.
To determine the Future Power Rating, we rated each team in five categories (see table at right).
As you can see, we determined that the most important category is a team’s current roster and the future potential of those players — that category accounts for 50 percent of each team’s overall Future Power Rating.
At the same time, we looked at many other factors, such as management, ownership, coaching, a team’s spending habits, its cap situation, the reputation of the city and the franchise and what kind of draft picks we expect the team to have in the future.
Here are our latest rankings, from 1 to 30:
1. Miami Heat | Future Power Rating: 843
|538 (2nd)||176 (3rd)||10 (30th)||93 (3rd)||26 (24th)|
After winning the championship and then backing up the truck to load in some more veteran talent, we’re bullish on Miami’s future, too. The Heat have the game’s best player in LeBron James, and that doesn’t seem likely to change in the near future. And, of course, they surround him with two other All-Stars still in their prime; those facts alone push Miami to second in the players category, even with little to show for its investments in the roster surrounding its three stars. But sun and sand will take care of that part.
While the Heat don’t have much money to spend — they’re a tax team and owner Micky Arison has indicated his pockets go only so deep in this market, so we rated them dead last in this category — it seems as though it hardly matters; between the beaches, night life and the chance to win a title, it’s a veritable talent magnet. Ray Allenand Rashard Lewis washed up on South Beach this summer despite minimal offers in dollars; in future years, you can count on other vets arriving by similar means.
Miami even improved its future draft position by stealthily plucking a protected first-round pick from Philadelphia on draft night. As a result, the Heat moved up six spots in the draft category, to 24th.
Finally, Erik Spoelstra burnished his rep as one of the league’s best young coaches by leading this group to a title. With Pat Riley still pulling the levers in the front office, we rated this management team third. Overall, one assumes it will become much easier for this group now that the monkey is off its back, which is why it edges out the Thunder and Lakers for the top spot.
(Previous rank: 2)
2. Oklahoma City Thunder | Future Power Rating: 822
|543 (1st)||190 (2nd)||25 (27th)||44 (16th)||20 (28th)|
The Thunder have arguably the best players and management, so what’s not to like here? Oklahoma City places second in our latest survey, as it won the Western Conference with a core group still in its early 20s and figures to remain elite for several years to come.
Yet you can find the kernels of storm clouds if you look hard enough, particularly on the financial end. Max deals for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and likely big-money deals for James Harden and Serge Ibaka will strain the finances in this small market, likely requiring creative solutions to fill out the rest of the roster and still avoid the worst ravages of the luxury tax.
Additionally, getting veterans to come here will be a harder sell than other markets. To the Thunder’s credit, they’ve built up enough of a winning culture that they now get considered —Derek Fisher landed here last season, for instance — but they’re still going to come behind the coastal cities. And while their four stars have shined, some of the secondary talent — most notably Kendrick Perkins — has disappointed.
That’s where good management comes in. Sam Presti has shown himself to be among the league’s best general managers, and regardless of what he did in Seattle, owner Clay Bennett has shown he can operate a basketball franchise. We rated the Thunder’s front office second behind only San Antonio — the team that is in many ways the blueprint for success.
(Previous rank: 1)
3. Los Angeles Lakers | Future Power Rating: 816
|530 (3rd)||155 (6th)||25 (28th)||100 (1st)||6 (30th)|
We liked L.A.’s players before, but now we love them — only Brooklyn increased its score more in this category, leaving the Lakers a close third behind Miami and Oklahoma City. Obviously, the additions of Steve NashandDwight Howard are the reason. As long as the Lakers are willing to fork out $100 million in payroll and deal with the luxury-tax hit, they’ll have one of the league’s best rosters.
It’s never clear exactly how much credit to give the Lakers’ management — everybody wants to play there and there’s always money lying around if they need it, which affords them deals that simply aren’t presented to other teams. Nonetheless, it’s clear this is one of the league’s better-run franchises, with strong, committed ownership, GM Mitch Kupchak quietly navigating the surrounding storm of publicity and Mike Brown an underrated bench jockey.
The biggest concern, and the one that has the Lakers third instead of first, is how they refill the cupboard. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Nash are all well into their 30s and Howard has a bad back. Meanwhile, one thing the Lakers won’t be doing much of is drafting: They have one first-round pick and one second-round pick in the three-year span we’re studying, yielding the lowest draft rating of any team.
Nonetheless, we know the endgame if one of L.A.’s stars should falter: Some other star will clamor to wear purple and gold. The Lakers got a perfect 100 for their market, a gift that keeps on giving them star players as long as they do the other things right.
(Previous rank: 11)
4. Utah Jazz | Future Power Rating: 774
|353 (11th)||145 (8th)||179 (3rd)||32 (23th)||65 (10th)|
A year and half ago, the Jazz looked dead in the water. Franchise legend Jerry Sloan retired in the middle of the season and All-Star point guard Deron Williams was abruptly shipped to the Nets at the trade deadline for a handful of prospects.
But after two really solid summers and a better-than-expected season in 2011-12, our optimism for the Jazz has never been higher. How does a No. 8-seed in the Western Conference without any stars warrant such a position?
Despite working in a less-than-desirable market, Jazz executive vice president Kevin O’Connor continues to be proactive in rebuilding this roster in a way that keeps the team winning while adding young pieces for the future.
The Jazz have solid veterans such as Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, but they also have very intriguing young players being groomed at multiple positions. Derrick Favors, a No. 3 overall pick, looked like a potential stud at the end of last season. Gordon Hayward improved dramatically in his second year. And lottery picks Enes Kanterand Alec Burks showed potential in their rookie season.
This summer, the Jazz took another step forward by acquiring point guard Mo Williams for essentially nothing. We believe Williams is a major upgrade over Devin Harris and should help bring stability to the roster. The addition of Marvin Williams should also help. While Marvin Williams has failed to live up to his pre-draft reputation, the player once selected a spot ahead of Deron Williams is still a solid defender who adds a veteran presence at the 3.
O’Connor has also been the master at acquiring additional lottery picks over the years, and the Jazz are set to grab another one from the Golden State Warriors in 2013. The team is also poised to have some real money to work with next summer when Jefferson, Millsap and Mo Williams come off the books.
The Jazz also put a succession plan for the 63-year-old O’Connor in motion this summer by appointing Dennis Lindsey of the Spurs as their new general manager. Lindsey is highly regarded by just about everyone in the league and should be ready to run things after being mentored by Carroll Dawson, R.C. Buford and now O’Connor.
The Jazz are still a year or two and a piece or two away from being serious contenders, but all signs continue to point in the right direction.
(Previous rank: 7)
5. Indiana Pacers | Future Power Rating: 702
|408 (5th)||110 (12th)||110 (14th)||41 (19th)||33 (20th)|
The Pacers might not be the Miami Heat, but with Chicago’s Derrick Roseexpected to miss a large chunk of the 2012-13 season and the Celtics continuing to show signs of aging, Indiana might be the second-best team in the East right now. Given how young most of the Pacers’ current roster is, they should stay in that position for some time.
This team doesn’t have a big star, but they are very solid 1 through 5 and have excellent chemistry. Danny Grangeris in his prime, David West looked better and better as the season progressed, Roy Hibbert is playing like an All-Star, George Hill showed potential as a starting point guard and Paul George may very well be the best player on this team a year from now, if not one of the best players in the league. He has that much potential.
Still, there is reason to worry. Team president Larry Bird retired and GM David Morway resigned at the end of the season, and they were replaced by former Pacers and Knicks president Donnie Walsh and former Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard. Both Walsh and Pritchard have stellar reputations, but it remains to be seen if they can execute as well as Bird and Morway did.
They got off to a rocky start this summer. The Pacers were forced to re-sign Hibbert to a max contract, gave an excessive deal to Hill, traded away Darren Collison for the right to overpayIan Mahinmi and probably reached a bit when they selected Miles Plumlee in the late first round.
Still, the Pacers seem poised to make a run at the Heat for the next few seasons. It’s unlikely they will catch them without adding a star to the roster, but if Miami suffers injuries or chemistry issues down the road, Indiana seems to be in the best position to take its spot atop the East.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.