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IGOTGAME 02-08-2012 05:51 PM

Insider Request: Future Power Rankings
Can someone post them. Seems like an interesting look at the league.

Niytrus 02-08-2012 06:13 PM

Re: Insider Request: Future Power Rankings

Originally Posted by IGOTGAME
Can someone post them. Seems like an interesting look at the league.

Post a link...

IGOTGAME 02-08-2012 06:16 PM

Re: Insider Request: Future Power Rankings

Originally Posted by Niytrus
Post a link...


Ronin 02-08-2012 06:17 PM

Re: Insider Request: Future Power Rankings
1. Kevin Durant, SF, Age: 23

Drafted second overall in 2007 after having possibly the greatest freshman season in college basketball history, Durant was named "Player of the Year" by numerous outlets. He struggled for much of his rookie season while playing a lot of shooting guard, but still easily won the Rookie of the Year Award. Since then, he's been a dynamic scorer, finishing fifth, first and first in NBA scoring the past three years, respectively.

He's also sported the second-highest PER in the league (27.00), trailing only LeBron James. He's the third best rebounding small forward; his scoring and willingness to make easy plays on offense has made OKC a top 3 offensive team. He has anchored the Thunder, which during Durant's time has evolved from a tough playoff team to a conference finalist then to the favorite to reach the Finals. He's thin but very durable and capable of taking a beating without missing a beat, as he tied for first in free throws made last season.

It would come as little surprise if Durant won multiple MVP awards and multiple NBA titles, as his team is built with an excellent blend of youth and role players with good seasons left in their tanks. Durant also set a new trend by signing his max deal for the full amount of years available. He's a terrific teammate and is as coachable a player as there is in the league. Similar to: Grant Hill

2. Derrick Rose, PG, 23 years old

Rose was drafted first overall by Chicago after helping the University of Memphis reach the NCAA 2007-08 title game. Rose struggled shooting for much of his first season, and was a horrible defender. However, he helped the Bulls into the playoffs where they lost to Boston in a dramatic seven-game series, earning him the Rookie of the Year honors. His powerful drives are impossible to defend, and his work ethic brought him to spend countless hours working on his jump shot.

He is perhaps the NBA's most intimidating guard to defend because he is both willing to shoot or drive and will always share the ball. In 2010-11, head coach Tom Thibodeau challenged him to play a more complete game. Rose complied, carrying the Bulls to the league's best record. He finished in the top 10 in PER and led point guards in minutes played, earning MVP honors. Chicago is set to compete with the Miami Heat for multiple championships, and Rose will compete with Chris Paul as the league's best point guard. Similar to: Kevin Johnson

3. Kevin Love, PF, 23 years old

Minnesota acquired Kevin Love in a draft-night trade in 2008, trading No. 3 pick O.J. Mayo for Love, Memphis' No. 5 pick. Love had a solid first year, with a PER of more than 18, but he needed to lose weight and was not at all a 3-point threat (he was just 2-of-19).

By his third year, he had slimmed down, helping him lead the league in rebounds, as well as making 88 of 211 3-point shots (41.7 percent), becoming the best rebounding/shooting combination in NBA history while winning the league's Most Improved Player award.

Today, he's among the NBA's top 5 in scoring, rebounding and PER, and is by far the Timberwolves' best player. With him as its anchor, Minnesota is poised for annual playoff appearances, and Love is a legitimate MVP candidate now and for years to come. Similar to: No one (he is a new type of power player)

4. Andrew Bynum, C, 24 years old

The Lakers drafted Bynum 10th overall in 2005, the youngest player in the draft. Bynum was incredibly raw and mechanical as a young player, so he struggled badly in his first year and was average in his second season. Since then, he's never had a PER below 20.03, and started at center for Lakers teams that ultimately went to three NBA Finals and won two titles. If not for being injury prone, Bynum would be universally known as the clear-cut second best center in the NBA and would be a perennial All-Star (and he'd also be higher on this list).

Today, he's enjoying a terrific season in all phases, and currently has his career high in rebound rate (while flirting with a career high in PER). Considering that many big men keep getting better after turning 25, Bynum still might not have reached his peak despite being in his seventh season. Amazingly, he's young enough to be considered in this group again next season; he's only a year older than Rose, Love and Durant. Similar to: Steve Stipanovich

5. Blake Griffin, PF, 22 years old

After earning numerous NCAA Player of the Year honors at Oklahoma, Griffin was the clear-cut No. 1 pick for the Clippers in 2009. He was very impressive in the Vegas Summer League, then suffered a leg injury and was forced to sit out the entire season. He returned healthy last season and showcased his astounding athletic feats. He finished the season 15th in PER -- the youngest of the top 15 -- and was named to the All-Star team. He was the Western Conference Rookie of the Month every month of the season and easily earned Rookie of the Year honors.

With Chris Paul onboard, the Clippers are primed to contend for the Western Conference title, but to do that Griffin has to improve his shot from the field and at the free throw line, as well as his awareness and overall effort on defense. If he does those things, he's a legitimate MVP candidate through 2016 and beyond. Similar to: Charles Barkley

6. Russell Westbrook, PG, 23 years old

Drafted fourth overall in 2008, Westbrook was named first team All-Rookie after a solid first season playing point guard, a position he did not play at UCLA. Westbrook has become an impact player; he is durable, missing zero games the past three straight seasons. Last season he helped the Thunder have their breakout season, and finished eighth in PER, third in steals and fifth in total[..]ists while earning second-team All-NBA honors and his first All-Star berth.

This season, he's among the NBA's top 10 in scoring while running the league's third-best offense. Though Westbrook will not likely be a league MVP (thanks to playing with Durant) he could easily win multiple Finals MVP awards as OKC is built to contend for years. Similar to: Steve Francis

7. Greg Monroe, C, 21 years old

Monroe was drafted seventh overall by Detroit in 2010, after earning third-team All-American honors at Georgetown. Monroe was seen as a slight underachiever as he entered the NBA, but within two months he began to play with purpose nightly. The results were obvious, as he finished 11th overall among the league's centers in PER (18.07), sixth in the NBA in field goal percentage, as well as grabbing the seventh most offensive rebounds in the league. This season he's improved dramatically, now ranking in the league's top 10 in PER while basically averaging a double-double. If his team was better he would be higher on this list, but it's clear that as Detroit rebuilds it will do so around Monroe in the pivot. Similar to: Alvan Adams

Ronin 02-08-2012 06:17 PM

Re: Insider Request: Future Power Rankings
8. James Harden, SG, 22 years old

A first team All-American at Arizona State, Harden was selected third overall in 2009. From the moment he played his first summer league game he displayed patience and poise beyond his years, and combined those skills with solid perimeter shooting to earn second-team All-Rookie honors. Last season he evolved into a more productive player and helped OKC's second unit become one of the best in the NBA.

This season, Harden is enjoying a breakout season, ranking third in PER among shooting guards. He is a player who can devastate opponents from the field or the free throw line. Like teammate Westbrook, Harden is capable of being the most productive and efficient player in any playoff series, including the Finals, in years to come. Similar to: Rick Barry

9. Kyrie Irving, PG, 20 years old

Despite playing sparingly at Duke following an injury, Cleveland drafted Irving first overall this past June. Irving has quickly served notice he will be a force among point guards, similar to Rose and Westbrook. Powerful, quick and more skilled than either of those two players at age 20, Irving has helped lift Cleveland from the depths of the NBA to a potential playoff team this season.

He's one of the few guards in the league who can finish 60 percent of his rim shots, make 40 percent of his 3s and be a 50-percent shooter from 10-15 feet. Irving's PER is better than 22, putting him at No. 5 overall for point guards behind Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Rose and Westbrook. He's having a better rookie season than any guard on this list and better than LeBron James had in Cleveland (18.3) during his rookie year. He still can get a lot better on defense and in his overall game, suggesting multiple All-Star appearances and perhaps some league MVP potential. Similar to: Deron Williams

10. John Wall, PG, 21 years old

After one year at the University of Kentucky, Wall was the first overall pick of the 2010 draft. He excelled his first season, earning NBA All-Rookie first-team honors after averaging 16.4 points per game. He has incredible speed and is terrific in the open court. He defends, and is an excellent rebounder, currently grabbing 5.3 rebounds per game. Also one of the top playmakers in the NBA, he averaged 8.3[..]ists as a rookie. However, he is careless with the ball and is turning it over at a 4.0 per game clip this season. He is also a mediocre shooter, shooting just 40.5 percent from the field for his career. He finishes at the rim, but must improve his midrange game and deep jumper. Wall has unlimited potential, and if he improves his shooting and takes care of the basketball he should develop into an All-Star. Similar to: Jason Kidd

11. Ty Lawson, PG, 24 years old

Lawson was the 18th pick of the 2009 draft by Minnesota, which then traded him to Denver. After the Nuggets traded Carmelo Anthony/Chauncey Billups to New York, Lawson became the starting point guard in Denver. His speed and aggressiveness in the open court drives the Nuggets' fast break. The Nuggets lead the NBA with 104.6 points per game and 21.7 points per game on the fast break. Lawson is extremely efficient in the pick-and-roll and penetration game. His scoring is up almost five points per game this season to 15.6 points per game and his[..]ists are up two per game to 6.3[..]ists per game. Lawson is one of the main reasons the Nuggets will be a consistent playoff contender in the Western Conference. Similar to: Terrell Brandon

12. DeJuan Blair, PF, 22 years old

The 6-foot-7, 270-pound power forward fell to the 37th pick of the 2009 draft after two seasons at Pitt because he is missing anterior cruciate ligaments in both knees, and scouts did not think he had the lift to finish at the rim. In his first game with the San Antonio Spurs, he scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, proving his skeptics wrong. Blair has brute strength and a tremendous feel for the game. He runs the court, est@blishing early position. Blair fundamentally uses angles and positioning to lock up his opponents in the paint, often finishing in the paint over taller opponents. Tremendous pickup for the Spurs. Similar to: Charles Barkley

13. DeMarcus Cousins, C, 21 years old

Cousins is a talented big man but has had off-court problems in college and in the NBA. He was the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft by the Sacramento Kings and made the NBA All-Rookie team after scoring 14.1 points and grabbing 8.6 rebounds per game. He gets deep position in the paint and scores down low but must consistently take the ball to the basket strong. He also is an excellent passer for a big man but struggles with double-teams and needs to demonstrate more patience. Poor decisions led to a high turnover average (3.3) as a rookie. But he is a monster rebounder, currently averaging 11.2 rebounds per game, including 4.3 on the offensive glass. He lacks discipline, which causes him to foul often, averaging 4.1 fouls per game over his career. However, he is playing well this season, averaging 15.8 points and 12.3 rebounds per game while shooting 48.5 percent over the past 10 games. Similar to: Derrick Coleman

14. Stephen Curry, PG, 23 years old

Curry led the nation in scoring (28.6 ppg) during his junior year at Davidson and was picked seventh in the 2009 draft by the Golden State Warriors. Scouts knew Curry was good, but how good? At the NBA level he has been able to score effortlessly. In his rookie season he had 30 points and 10assists five times. Curry is a terrific shooter with perfect form, shooting 43.5 percent from behind the 3-point line for his career. In addition to averaging 17.9 points per game, Curry is an excellent playmaker and distributor, averaging 5.9[..]ists per game. He has the ability to create shots for himself and teammates and has emerged as a leader even as a young player. Curry works hard on the defensive end but has average athleticism and is a defensive liability. Similar to: Mark Price

15. Danilo Gallinari, SF, 23 years old

Gallinari started playing professionally in Italy at the age of 16. He was selected with the sixth pick of the 2008 draft by the New York Knicks. A big-time shooter, he was second in the NBA in 3-pointers made (186) while shooting 38 percent in his second season. After being traded to Denver he has blossomed, earning a four-year, $42 million contract extension in January. There are few young players who have Gallinari's talent and skill set. He has unlimited range on his jumper, the ability to create his own shot and the craftiness to get to the free throw line. Gallinari has gotten to the line 7.2 times per game after being traded to the Nuggets. He owns great ballhandling and passing skills for a big man and fits in perfectly with George Karl's style of play. Similar to: Hedo Turkoglu

Ronin 02-08-2012 06:18 PM

Re: Insider Request: Future Power Rankings
16. Ricky Rubio, PG, 21 years old

Rubio is considered one of the best European guard prospects ever. At 14, he was the youngest player to ever play in the Spanish ACB League. Drafted by the Timberwolves with the fifth pick in 2009, he did not make his NBA debut until this season. After winning just 32 games the past two seasons the Wolves are playing well. He has a competitive nature with excellent ballhandling skills and loves the no-look pass. Rubio plays with tremendous poise for a young player. Rubio penetrates defenses, creates openings for himself and makes his teammates better. He is averaging 11.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 8.9[..]ists in 34.8 minutes per game. However, he must reduce his turnovers, of which he is averaging 3.1 per game. And his two biggest question marks are his ability to defend elite point guards and his shooting ability, currently at just 39 percent from the field. Similar to: Pete Maravich

17. Brandon Jennings, PG, 22 years old

Jennings was a highly regarded high school recruit who skipped college to play in Europe. He struggled there and fell to the 10th pick in the 2009 draft. Nonetheless, an explosive scorer, Jennings scored 55 points in a game during his rookie season. But his confidence and swagger have led to inefficient offensive play. He has struggled in his first two seasons in three areas: shooting 3-pointers consistently, getting to the free throw line and finishing at the rim. He has shot just 37 and 39 percent from the field in his first two seasons, respectively. But Jennings' game has evolved this season, and he is playing like an All-Star. His scoring numbers are up to 19.9 points per game with his shooting percentages improving to 43 percent from the field and 37 percent from the 3-point line. Similar to: Allen Iverson

18. Mike Conley Jr., PG, 24 years old

Conley played one year at Ohio State before being selected by the Memphis Grizzlies with the fourth pick of the 2007 draft. He is a smooth left-handed point guard who has the athleticism, ballhandling and poise to run a team. He is a tremendous playmaker who makes others better. His shooting form is solid, but the range on his jump shot has been inconsistent. He has a tremendous work ethic and has worked hard to improve his field goal percentage and 3-point range. He received a five-year, $45 million contract extension in 2010 after getting off to the best start of his career. He finished the season with career bests in points,[..]ists, rebounding and field goal percentage. Conley was terrific in this past postseason, where he averaged 15.2 points and 6.4[..]ists per game versus Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook. Similar to: John Lucas

19. JaVale McGee, C, 24 years old

McGee was the 18th pick in the 2008 draft, going to the Washington Wizards. He is a gifted athlete, with a tremendous vertical jump and a 7-6 wingspan. McGee can finish at the rim, handle the ball and block shots. Unfortunately, he does not have a reliable offensive game: no post-up game and no 12- to 15-foot jumper. Everything he does offensively is off an offensive rebound or a lob off penetration. However, McGee is a big-time rim protector. Averaged 2.4 blocks last season and is at 3.0 blocks per game this season. He is a poor one-on-one defender. Undisciplined and often out of position, he picks up a ton of cheap fouls. McGee has the talent to develop into a 15-point, 10-rebound and 3-block per game player if he matures. Similar to: Theo Ratliff

20. Serge Ibaka, PF, 22 years old

The 24th pick of the 2008 draft, Ibaka has tremendous raw talent. His length, quickness and jumping ability allow him to defend, rebound and be a high-level shot-blocker. He has averaged 2.0 blocks per game over his career. He is excellent defending the pick-and-roll but struggles to defend the powerful post players and stretch 4s. Ibaka is a big-time offensive rebounder, runs the court effortlessly for a big man and can finish around the basket. However, he has no one-on-one game in the post and needs to develop footwork and confidence. He struggles to get post position, often getting pushed off the box. But having teammate Kendrick Perkins as a mentor will help, and Ibaka can help bolster the defensive backbone for this young, championship-driven team. Similar to: Dikembe Mutombo

irondarts 02-08-2012 06:18 PM

Re: Insider Request: Future Power Rankings


The Future Power Rankings are ESPN Insider's projection of the on-court success expected for each team in the 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.

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 40 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 expected the team to have in the future.

One change for this edition: Now that so many big names have landed in more permanent places, we have increased the value of the Players category. This also rewards teams like Oklahoma City, Memphis and Philadelphia that have successfully built their rosters already with young talent. Of course, we still recognize that teams like Dallas, Houston and New Jersey (future: Brooklyn) have the money and the motivation to spend, and can make a lot of noise in the coming years -- and we still reward teams for strong management, salary cap space and so on.

Here are our latest rankings, from 1 to 30:

Future Power Rankings: 1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25 | 26-30

1. Oklahoma City Thunder | Future Power Rating: 845

550 (1st) 189 (1st) 55 (24th) 43 (17th) 8 (29th)

What's amazing about the Thunder is that they have the league's best record even though their four best players are 23, 23, 22 and 22. Most of their role players are young, too -- Daequan Cook, Reggie Jackson, Eric Maynor and Cole Aldrich all are 24 or younger, and Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha aren't exactly fossils at 27. If you want to know why we rated their players first, ahead of Miami's, that's why. OKC's core is only going to get better over the next three years, which is what puts it at the top of our rankings.

Well, that, and the management, which we rated ahead of San Antonio's by a nose -- the first time the Spurs have been topped in this category. Of course, San Antonio can still claim victory in a way -- Sam Presti and owner Clay Bennett used the Spurs' blueprint to build this team. Under Presti the Thunder have yet to make a false move, patiently building a winner out of the McMillan-era Sonics' ashes and exquisitely managing their cap.

They'll face some tougher decisions in the future, as contract extensions for James Harden and Serge Ibaka may force them to shed other deals to sidestep the luxury tax (including potentially granting amnesty to Perkins). That's where the money and market come in, and neither is in the Thunder's favor.

But despite the small market, management will spend up to a point. Additionally, this has become something of a desirable market solely because it's such a well-run, professional operation and it offers a chance at a ring. For all those reasons, we rate the Thunder as having the brightest future of the league's 30 teams.

(Previous rank: 2)

2. Miami Heat | Future Power Rating: 827

526 (2nd) 184 (3rd) 19 (30th) 95 (2nd) 3 (30th)

As you might have guessed, we're optimistic about Miami's future. It's hard not to be when there are three superstars as the centerpiece; because of the Superfriends trio of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, we rated Miami's players second despite there being fairly little help around them. The cupboard isn't completely bare, however, as rookie point guard Norris Cole looks like a keeper.

More importantly, the Heat have a number of secondary advantages. Start with their market; between the low taxes, sunny weather and chance for a ring, Miami rates as the second-most desirable market after the L.A. Lakers. Additionally, the Heat are a well-run shop; Pat Riley is one of the league's most respected execs and Erik Spoelstra has proved his mettle on the sidelines.

Unfortunately, the Heat will have a hard time acquiring talent given their cap and draft situation. They're in luxury-tax territory the next three seasons, and owner Micky Arison has historically been reluctant to spend beyond that limit. And the draft? Forget it. The Heat owe a 2013 first-rounder to Cleveland and likely will be picking somewhere between 28th and 30th in the other two years.

(Previous rank: 3)

3. Chicago Bulls | Future Power Rating: 817

519 (3rd) 165 (5th) 30 (28th) 88 (4th) 15 (28th)

Although the Bulls find themselves third after claiming the No. 1 spot in our rankings last March by a narrow margin over the Thunder, the difference between them and the two teams above remains negligible. There is still a lot to be bullish about in Chicago.

The roster is headlined by reigning MVP Derrick Rose, who is having a better season this year and will continue to mature and become an even more potent weapon. Joakim Noah and Luol Deng are also both young and productive. And Carlos Boozer should be a solid contributor for the next few years as well.

They'll need a younger replacement at the 2-guard position soon (Richard Hamilton turns 34 next week and is sporting the lowest PER of his career), but overall we feel their No. 3 roster ranking is well-deserved. If they could somehow manage to package some of their depth and turn it into Dwight Howard, they'd likely regain the top spot on our charts.

The Bulls also continue to move up the rankings in management (up from No. 8 to No. 5) thanks to the job coach Tom Thibodeau is doing. Not only does he have the Bulls playing better defense, but he's proved he can keep the offense humming at the same time.

Chicago has the pieces to win an NBA championship, and that will likely remain the case for the next three to four years. Only the Thunder and the Heat, and possibly the Clippers, can really say the same.

(Previous rank: 1)

4. Los Angeles Clippers | Future Power Rating: 749

479 (4th) 81 (16th) 92 (18th) 80 (5th) 17 (27th)

The Clippers are eight spots ahead of the Lakers? Yes, the times are changing in L.A. It's very possible the Clips will be Southern California's top basketball team over the next three seasons, as they've positioned themselves for a very strong run.

Let's start with the players. We ranked the Clippers fourth based on the superstar nucleus of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul; while we wished they had a bit more help, the supporting cast at least possesses some solid complementary pieces and trade assets. And the market rates fifth, as the combination of coming to L.A. and playing for a winner should be a powerful lure -- as it was in their recent signing of Kenyon Martin.

Finally, the Clippers are in pretty good financial position for a contending team. They're well under the tax line and should feel free to add players via exceptions over the next couple of years, filling the roster holes on the wings and at backup center.

The worry, alas, is that these are the Clippers and they'll find a way to screw it up. We rated L.A. 16th in management, and that might have been kind. While GM Neil Olshey has mostly done good work, owner Donald Sterling is a buffoon's buffoon and head coach Vinny Del Negro still seems overmatched. The latter has an expiring deal and may not be retained, but the Clips may have trouble getting somebody better given The Donald's history of not paying his former coaches.

(Previous rank: 9)

Ronin 02-08-2012 06:19 PM

Re: Insider Request: Future Power Rankings
21. Nicolas Batum, SF, 23 years old
Batum was one of the most talented young players in Europe from 2005 to 2008. Portland acquired his rights in 2008, and he moved into the starting lineup during the fourth game of the 2008-09 season. Batum has tremendous length and a unique skill set. He is a very good two-way player with defense being his forte. He is an excellent wing defender who can defend multiple positions. His scoring has increased every year in the league going from 5.4 points per game as a rookie to 12.4 points per game last season. He also loves the 3-pointer, as he attempted 807 field goals last season, and 342 of them were from behind the 3-point line, where has shot 37.4 percent for his career. Batum is very good at scoring off cuts and coming off screens. The Blazers would love for him to develop more of an attack mentality. Similar to: Bruce Bowen

22. Thaddeus Young, PF, 23 years old
Despite not having a truly defined position, Young makes the most of his playing time coming off the bench, enabling his team to enjoy a huge advantage with their second unit. He's a terrific finisher, attacks the rim and plays within his talent level, rather than launching too many shots or drives that would likely end poorly. Similar to: Antawn Jamison

23. Tyreke Evans, PG, 22 years old

Evans is, by far, the toughest guy to evaluate going forward, based on what he's done so far. He regressed badly in his second season. He has played better this year but is not even back at his rookie levels. Bottom line: as a point guard he ranks 50th in[..]ist rate and as a shooting guard he ranks 46th in true shooting percentage, so he still does not have a position. Telling statistic: The Kings are 40-107 in games he has played since Jan. 1 of his rookie season. Similar to: A blend of Larry Hughes and Allen Iverson.

24. Jrue Holiday, PG, 21 years old

Holiday has not made any big jumps forward, but he's a key starter on a very likely playoff team. His team is far worse when he's not in the game. He has the talent to be a much better defender and finisher at the rim, but he's already a dynamite perimeter shooter and a willing ball mover. Similar to: Danny Ainge

25. Brook Lopez, C, 23 years old

Before his foot injury, Lopez had hit a wall developmentally. He wakes up every day as a very good player, but has much more potential left to tap. He needs to take better shots, think the game more and be a monster on the glass. He's improved on all of these but looked like he was going to master them as a rookie. Similar to: Joe Barry Carroll

Ronin 02-08-2012 06:20 PM

Re: Insider Request: Future Power Rankings
whoops I posted the wrong stuff..oh well

irondarts 02-08-2012 06:20 PM

Re: Insider Request: Future Power Rankings


5. Indiana Pacers | Future Power Rating: 748

399 (7th) 130 (10th) 141 (7th) 41 (18th) 37 (20th)

We continue to get more excited about the roster Larry Bird and David Morway have put together. While there are no superstars, the team is incredibly deep and plays well together. Danny Granger is in his prime, David West brings leadership, Roy Hibbert is playing like an All-Star, Darren Collison continues to improve, Tyler Hansbrough brings manic energy, George Hill (when healthy) has given the team a scorer off the bench, and Paul George may very well be the best player on this team in another year, if not one of the best players in the league -- he has that much potential.

The team continues to be prudent with its money, too, and still has significant cap room to add other pieces. Adding one more scorer could put the Pacers in serious contention for the Eastern Conference crown.

But it's the Pacers' jump in management score that moved them up to No. 5. Owner Herb Simon remains committed to putting a winning team on the floor, which means the front office has the green light to spend if it's on the right guy. And while no one had heard of Frank Vogel before last season, he's quickly looking like one of the best up-and-coming coaches in the NBA. He doesn't get enough credit for his contribution to the unselfish culture on the Pacers.

Bird, however, deserves the lion's share of the credit. Is this the year the three-time NBA MVP and former coach of the year completes the triple crown and takes home executive of the year honors? It's hard to think of anyone else who deserves it more.

(Previous rank: 7)

The Future Power Rankings are ESPN Insider's projection of the on-court success expected for each team in the 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.

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 40 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 expected the team to have in the future.

One change for this edition: Now that so many big names have landed in more permanent places, we have increased the value of the Players category. This also rewards teams like Oklahoma City, Memphis and Philadelphia that have successfully built their rosters already with young talent. Of course, we still recognize that teams like Dallas, Houston and New Jersey (future: Brooklyn) have the money and the motivation to spend, and can make a lot of noise in the coming years -- and we still reward teams for strong management, salary cap space and so on.

Here are our latest rankings, from 1 to 30:

Future Power Rankings: 1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25 | 26-30

6. Dallas Mavericks | Future Power Rating: 730

284 (16th) 170 (4th) 164 (3rd) 76 (6th) 31 (22nd)

The Mavs are the oldest team in the league, with an average player age of 30.33. They have several overpaid veterans (Brendan Haywood, Lamar Odom and Shawn Marion) who, while productive, have seen better days. They have other key veterans (Jason Terry and Jason Kidd) who will head into free agency this year. And, this past offseason, they lost their defensive anchor, Tyson Chandler, to the Knicks in free agency, traded away young players (Corey Brewer and Rudy Fernandez) for draft picks and didn't add one significant young player to the roster.

So how exactly did the Mavs rise in our rankings from No. 13 to No. 6?

It's all about the future.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban made a series of tough decisions this offseason that put the team's chances of repeating in jeopardy but greatly aided the team's ability to rebuild quickly. By refusing to sign vets like Chandler and Caron Butler to huge contracts he gambled that he could go into this summer and restock the Mavs with younger, All-Star-caliber players.

If Cuban and GM Donnie Nelson play all their assets right, they could get the Mavs far enough under the cap to land two marquee players to play alongside Dirk Nowitzki next season. Everyone knows that Deron Williams and Dwight Howard will be the targets. But even if the Mavs can't land both, they'll still be powerful players in the free-agent market.

For that reason, we find it hard to bet against Cuban. Great management, significant financial resources and an inviting market usually lead to great things. Yes, we're operating on faith here. But the Mavs have positioned themselves to have the biggest summer of any team in the NBA. And Cuban might just pull it off.

(Previous rank: 13)

7. Utah Jazz | Future Power Rating: 723

370 (9th) 142 (9th) 124 (11th) 30 (22nd) 57 (12th)

The Jazz took a major hit in our rankings last March thanks to the loss of All-Star point guard Deron Williams and coach Jerry Sloan. But after a really solid offseason and an excellent start to the season, our optimism over the Jazz is swelling.

Perhaps the most underrated GM in the league, Kevin O'Connor has done the most with a very tough situation in a less than desirable market and built a strong foundation for the Jazz going forward. He's continued to be proactive in rebuilding this roster in a way that keeps the team winning while adding young players for the future.

The Jazz not only have solid veterans, including Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, at virtually every position, but they also have intriguing young players being groomed at every spot except point guard. Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks have enormous potential. The fact that the team is winning while developing them makes us only more encouraged about their long-term future.

O'Connor has also been a master at acquiring lottery picks, and the Jazz are poised to grab another one from the Warriors as long as it's not in the top seven. They do owe the Wolves a pick, however, but only if they make the playoffs. In addition, the team is poised to have some money to work with in the summer of 2013 when Jefferson, Millsap and Raja Bell all come off the books.

And with Tyrone Corbin showing he can have the Jazz playing above expectations, perhaps the drop-off from Jerry Sloan might not be as bad as we once feared. The Jazz are still a few years and a piece or two away from being serious contenders, but all signs are pointing in the right direction.

(Previous rank: 14)

irondarts 02-08-2012 06:21 PM

Re: Insider Request: Future Power Rankings


8. Denver Nuggets | Future Power Rating: 700

425 (6th) 120 (11th) 84 (19th) 43 (16th) 28 (25th)

Life after Carmelo didn't turn out so shabbily, because the Nuggets were able to trade him for an entire team. Seriously. Denver grabbed eight solid players directly or indirectly from the Melo deal (Danilo Gallinari, Andre Miller, Jordan Hamilton, Kosta Koufos, Rudy Fernandez, Corey Brewer, Timofey Mozgov and Wilson Chandler) and still have two future first-rounders (in 2014 and 2016 at the earliest) coming their way. That's 10 players from one trade. Not a bad haul.

Denver already had two near-All-Stars in Nene and Ty Lawson, and as a result of the Melo trade bounty we've rated their players sixth overall. We're also pretty high on their management, as George Karl remains among the league's best coaches and GM Masai Ujiri showed with the Melo deal that he can work the trade angles.

We're just a little worried about where they can go from here. Denver has a lot of money tied up in its roster, with excessive contracts for role players Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington not helping matters, and historically the Kroenke family has been reluctant to pay luxury tax. It's not clear how they'll be able to keep this group together and keep the finances under control; most likely they'll have to shed the likes of Miller and Fernandez along the way.

Additionally, we're not sure how much lure this market has for incoming players. It's not a bad place, but they can't offer free agents much in the way of sun and sand -- or, more importantly, minutes, given how much depth they possess already.

As a result, we have them pegged in the second tier. They have a really strong roster set up for the next three years, but with no stars and limited ability to improve it, the ceiling may be the second round of the playoffs.

(Previous rank: 15)

9. San Antonio Spurs | Future Power Rating: 692

298 (15th) 186 (2ndt) 124 (10th) 53 (13th) 31 (23rd)

All good things must come to an end. With Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Richard Jefferson all on the downsides of their careers, Tony Parker is the only veteran on the team who remains in his prime. Although the Spurs continue to be savvy in finding good players, including DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter and rookie Kawhi Leonard, all appear to have brighter futures as role players, not stars.

Our main belief in the Spurs comes from their stellar management. We've ranked them No. 1 in every Future Power Rankings we've done until this one (the Thunder edged them out).

The challenge will be using their smarts with limited resources. The Spurs will have some cap flexibility in the future (especially if they amnesty Jefferson), but their lack of market power may limit whom they can bring on board. And they're currently still good enough to stay out of the lottery, which hurts their chances of landing another young star.

(Previous rank: 5)

10. Houston Rockets | Future Power Rating: 670

246 (19th) 145 (8th) 165 (2nd) 59 (9th) 55 (13th)

These guys are holding down the fort remarkably well considering the circumstances. Houston has been hammered twice in the past year -- once when Yao Ming had to retire due to injuries, and a second time when the league, acting as stewards of the Hornets, overturned a trade for Pau Gasol at the 11th hour. The Rockets have no big stars, but have built enough depth to stay in playoff position in the tough West.

We're not crazy about the current roster -- rated just 19th going forward -- because most of the young talent is more of the role player variety. However, Houston has everything else going in its favor. Thanks to shrewd cap management, the Rockets have put themselves in position to be players in free agency, where a strong market that includes low taxes and warm weather will help them. Additionally, Houston has shown a willingness to spend -- including buying draft picks -- and is in a sneaky-good position with the draft thanks to owning New York's first-round pick.

They'd be even better off if their own pick wasn't headed to New Jersey as a result of the baffling Terrence Williams trade, the one blemish on the otherwise rock-solid tenure of GM Daryl Morey.

Sum up all those advantages and we like Houston's future enough to put the Rockets 10th overall, even though the roster doesn't overwhelm.

(Previous rank: 16)

irondarts 02-08-2012 06:21 PM

Re: Insider Request: Future Power Rankings


11. (tie) Los Angeles Lakers | Future Power Rating: 667

368 (10th) 146 (7th) 24 (29th) 99 (1st) 30 (24th)

The Lakers seem like they're dying in slow motion right now, but they still have problems most other teams would kill for. A nucleus of Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol figures to decline substantially during the next three years, given that only Bynum is in his 20s, but that's still a far more imposing trio than most other teams can muster. We just wish the cupboard wasn't so bare behind them. Bynum is the only young player on the roster whom another team would want.

Additionally, we rated the Lakers' management strongly. Mitch Kupchak has quietly done a very solid job building and maintaining this squad, and Mike Brown is among the league's better coaches. Although we're all a little concerned about Jim Buss' role, there's a lot of organizational knowledge in place.

But the biggest reason to be optimistic about the Lakers is they're the Lakers. This works on two levels. First, L.A. always will outspend any team if it really needs to; although the Lakers have cut a few corners in recent seasons in order to save a few bucks, they can always go deep into the luxury tax to clinch a gobsmacker deal (like the Pau Gasol trade).

Second, they're the top free-agent target for everybody. If the Lakers have cap space, a superstar will definitely take it. And on that note, check out this little nugget: L.A. has $0 committed in 2014-15, when the contracts of Gasol and Bryant expire. They could build a whole new team around whichever stars want to come ... presuming Dwight Howard, Kevin Love or some other megastar hasn't already finagled a trade there.

(Previous rank: 4)

13. Portland Trail Blazers | Future Power Rating: 657

346 (13th) 105 (12th) 122 (13th) 47 (14th) 37 (18th)

It's amazing how bright the Blazers' future looks given all that's gone wrong with them. Two years ago Brandon Roy and Greg Oden looked like the foundation of a perennial contender; now it appears each has played his last game as a Blazer.

All that has left the Blazers firmly in the middle, as they rank between 12th and 18th in every category; few other franchises could suffer a one-two sucker punch like this and remain standing.

Nonetheless, the future looks hazy. Not bad, necessarily, but hazy. LaMarcus Aldridge and Wes Matthews are the only core players certain to be on the team next season; all the rest are likely to be free agents. The team has kept the general manager position open as well, with owner Paul Allen apparently relying on his Seattle friends to whisper things in his ear.

All this could be a tremendous opportunity to rebuild the roster around Aldridge and make another charge for the top of the West; the Blazers could also bring everyone back, as the current team isn't chopped liver, either.

The good news is that Allen remains willing to spend for a winner, that the Blazers potentially have cap space to chase a star and that Aldridge is a fantastic centerpiece. Instead, the familiar story is their struggle to get from here to the league's upper crust.

(Previous rank: 10)

14. New York Knicks | Future Power Rating: 615

338 (14th) 100 (13th) 58 (22nd) 92 (3rd) 27 (26th)

Sorry, Knicks fans. Landing two marquee players and a big free-agent signing was supposed to launch the Knicks into the stratosphere. Instead, the moves have actually sunk them below .500 this season and dropped them eight spots in our rankings.

In March, we were a lot more bullish about the Knicks' future thanks to the addition of Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and some cap flexibility in the future. Eleven months later? Stoudemire looks worn down, Anthony is proving he's no LeBron and all that cap space was spent on Tyson Chandler (not, say, Dwight Howard or Chris Paul).

The Knicks remain as high as they are in the rankings based primarily on market, where New York ranks third behind Los Angeles and Miami right now. In every other category, the picture isn't pretty.

The Knicks are losing ground in the management department after losing the revered Donnie Walsh this past summer. They no longer have the cap flexibility they used to have. And they've killed virtually any chance of landing a top draft pick based on a number of trades they made to get the cap space that eventually went to Chandler.

Meanwhile, they don't have much roster flexibility. Stoudemire is almost impossible to trade because of an uninsured contract. Melo has value, but they'd get pennies on the dollar for him in a trade. Chandler seems like a poor fit in the current system. Baron Davis might help temporarily, but he's not the point guard of the future. Maybe the Knicks will get lucky in the summer and a superstar will force a trade there; that's the power of their market. But short of that, the great Knicks rebuilding plan looks like it may come up far short of expectations.

(Previous rank: 6)

15. Memphis Grizzlies | Future Power Rating: 612

446 (5th) 74 (20th) 38 (27th) 18 (30th) 36 (21st)

We like this nucleus a lot, rating the Grizzlies fifth in players. With Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley, along with Darrell Arthur and O.J. Mayo in relief, this is a fantastic core. Randolph and Arthur are injured at the moment, but they'll be back at full strength next season.

It's the other stuff that has us worried. Let's start with the money; Memphis is in arguably the worst cap position of any team, given its aversion to luxury tax. The Griz will be dancing with the tax line each of the next three years just to pay their core, likely making it difficult to keep Mayo beyond this season. As for adding additional players, the Griz are probably mostly looking at minimum-salary players who won't bust the budget -- a difficult proposition in a market that's already among the league's least alluring.

As for management, it depends on who is calling the shots. GM Chris Wallace has proved competent when he's been able to make the decisions, and head coach Lionel Hollins has done solid work. But owner Michael Heisley has too often intervened in basketball decisions with disastrous consequences -- most notably when he had the team take Hasheem Thabeet in the 2009 draft.

Thus, it's incumbent on that core group to stay healthy and productive for the next three seasons, because the Grizzlies have a hard time importing any help, and they'll be drafting too late to find much support that way. It's a strong group, but they're sailing into an equally strong headwind.

(Previous rank: 22)

irondarts 02-08-2012 06:22 PM

Re: Insider Request: Future Power Rankings


6. Philadelphia 76ers | Future Power Rating: 607

376 (8th) 92 (15th) 65 (21st) 36 (20th) 38 (17th)

The Future Power Rankings struggle with a team like the Sixers, who are a well-coached team with a young roster and new, energetic management. They are already playing like a top-four team in the East. But our FPR formula is unimpressed.

First, the good news. We currently have the Sixers ranked eighth on roster -- up five spots from where we rated them last March. The combination of Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams and an emerging Spencer Hawes makes the Sixers very intriguing.

Furthermore, Doug Collins has done a great job getting the most out of this team and new ownership should provide a boost to a Sixers team that appeared a bit comatose from the management side the past few years.

It's all of the other categories that drag them down considerably.

The team is capped out and can't add more players via free agency. It will keep likely be drafting late for the next few years. And, while Philly is a great market, there aren't marquee free agents like Dwight Howard pushing to go there.

So the question is: With no money to spend, middling draft picks and some holes in the roster, have the Sixers hit their ceiling?

(Previous rank: 20)

17. New Jersey Nets | Future Power Rating: 597

268 (22nd) 69 (23rd) 170 (1st) 68 (7th) 72 (8th)

The Nets may be going for a permanent "Incomplete" in these rankings. For the past few years there have been rumblings and more rumors about how this roster is going to metamorphose into a contender. While the possibilities may be tantalizing, the actual results have been a major letdown.

The one exception was last February's trade deadline deal that snagged them All-Star point guard Deron Williams. But other than Williams -- and possibly Brook Lopez and rookie MarShon Brooks -- the Nets' roster is a mess. That's no big deal if the team bundles together Lopez, all of its expiring contracts and role players and lands a superstar. But anything less than that (see the Knicks comment) and their future isn't nearly as bright.

On top of that, the Nets traded for Williams without any assurances that he'd sign a contract extension with the team. He can exercise his early-termination option at the end of the season to become an unrestricted free agent. And if he bolts, the Nets made a catastrophic deal and will plummet even further in these rankings.

The rest of the factors -- management, market, money, draft -- all hinge on the unknown. Somewhere between now and the end of July, we'll know more, and when we do, the ranking for the Nets will be much clearer.

(Previous rank: 12)

18. Cleveland Cavaliers | Future Power Rating: 583

253 (18th) 73 (21st) 157 (3rd) 28 (23th) 72 (9th)

It's getting better, Cavs fans. After spending the year in the FPR basement, the future is suddenly looking much brighter in Cleveland.

Much of that has to do with the addition of Kyrie Irving. In March of last year, the Cavs' roster ranked 29th out of 30th. Now they've moved up a whopping 11 spots thanks to their Rookie of the Year contender. Irving has shown enough potential in the first half of the season to make us believe he might be an All-Star caliber player someday (maybe sooner if the East wasn't loaded with great point guards).

The long-term future of Tristan Thompson is also promising and Anderson Varejao still has enough juice to man the middle for the Cavs the next few years. In addition, another lottery pick this summer should help fill one of their big holes at shooting guard or small forward.

Meanwhile, the Cavs' salary cap situation also looks good thanks to the amnesty cut of Baron Davis in the offseason and Antawn Jamison's contract coming off the books this summer. Cleveland isn't the top destination for free agents and there will be plenty of competition, but there's no question the team should be able to continue to add to its roster.

(Previous rank: 29)

19. Atlanta Hawks | Future Power Rating: 567

405 (12th) 80 (17th) 49 (26th) 46 (15th) 37 (19th)

Despite their success on the court this season, the future of the Hawks is a less certain proposition. Certainly the building blocks are there with Al Horford, Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, a budding Jeff Teague and a still-chugging Joe Johnson. We had Atlanta rated 12th in players, so no problem there.

It's the other stuff that hurts them. The Hawks are capped out and don't have the resources to go deep into the luxury tax for help. Beyond that, virtually everything about this team's future is up in the air. The coach and general manager are both free agents after the season, and the ownership is in flux -- after failing to sell the team this past summer, they're courting offers to unload what has been a consistent money loser.

Financially, about the only reprieve would come from using the amnesty on Johnson at some point, but a team in the Hawks' financial straits would be extremely reluctant to pay a guy $20 million to suit up for another team. With a deep-pocketed owner, we might change our tune, but so far none has emerged. As a result, Atlanta's destiny likely remains in the middle -- good enough to make the playoffs, most likely, but not good enough to do anything of consequence once they get there. For a franchise that has never played in an Eastern Conference finals game, that has a familiar feel.

(Previous rank: 19)

20. Minnesota Timberwolves | Future Power Rating: 552

367 (11th) 40 (26th) 83 (20th) 19 (29th) 43 (16th)

The Wolves have Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, and because of that their situation is no longer hopeless. The Wolves have some sidekicks that aren't bad either, such as second overall pick Derrick Williams, and because of that we ranked their personnel 11th.

That's the good news. However, many questions remain. The Wolves wouldn't give Love a five-year extension and instead gave him a deal with a three-year opt-out; history shows that this will start the clock on Love departure rumors about halfway through the Future Power Rankings' three-year cycle.

Additionally, their cap situation is surprisingly not that great thanks to the assorted Darkos and Ridnours making midlevel-ish money. The Wolves aren't going to be under the cap anytime soon, although I'm not sure it would matter if they were given that we rated this market 29th. It's not the city that's the problem, it's the mercury: Players just aren't excited to spend their winters there.

But the other reason for concern is the management. GM David Kahn scored with Rubio but still has had far more whiffs than hits -- he also used top-six picks on Wesley Johnson and Jonny Flynn, for instance, both of whom seem to be horrific busts. The hiring of coach Rick Adelman has clearly helped, however, replacing the disastrous reign of Kurt Rambis.

If Kahn can surround Rubio and Love with some decent role players -- like a real NBA shooting guard, for instance -- and Love's eye doesn't wander toward Southern California or some other destination, there are pieces in place for a renaissance. We just don't know if they have the organizational know-how to pull it off.

(Previous rank: 27)

irondarts 02-08-2012 06:23 PM

Re: Insider Request: Future Power Rankings


21. Golden State Warriors | Future Power Rating: 512

243 (20th) 62 (24th) 97 (16th) 55 (12th) 55 (14th)

The new Warriors continue to look a lot like the old Warriors. Sure, they have a new coach and a few new faces, but they still have the same GM, the same flash with no substance on the court, and the same sort of 30-plus-win team we've seen for a while now. So their ranking stays right at No. 21 -- high enough to offer hope, but low enough to raise serious questions about ever achieving it.

The Warriors do have talent. Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry and David Lee are all solid building blocks. Brandon Rush was a nice pickup over the summer. And the team has high hopes for young players like Ekpe Udoh and Klay Thompson.

Unfortunately, the team remains woefully out of balance, lacking much in the way of a winning culture, a defensive ethic or a long-term strategy. It's hard to see how the Warriors will continue in the long term with Curry and Ellis in the backcourt. While they complement each other offensively, neither player is guarding anyone on defense. The team also still lacks size and shot-blocking in the middle after striking out on both Tyson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan this offseason.

Financially, the team has some flexibility, but not a lot. And they'll likely send their draft pick to the Jazz this year, limiting their ability to capitalize on a strong class. At virtually every level, the Warriors appear stuck, and it's unclear how they're going to break out of their rut.

(Previous rank: 21)

22. Washington Wizards | Future Power Rating: 507

197 (25th) 37 (27th) 149 (6th) 35 (21th) 89 (4th)

It's easy to talk yourself into Washington's future on paper. They have draft picks, cap space and some talented young players, led by 2010 first overall pick John Wall. Then you watch the team on the court and all that goes out the window. It's not just that the Wizards are bad; it's that at times they seem like a parody of an ABA franchise. Their 2011-12 highlight film will be a looping clip of JaVale McGee sprinting back on defense while his team has the ball.

We rated the Wizards just 25th in players, based on the disappointing progress their young charges have made this season. Wall is as fast end-to-end as any player in the past 20 years, but looks lost in the half court and miles away from stardom. McGee has made some progress but still baffles with his decisions, while Andray Blatche, Jordan Crawford and Nick Young remain unreformed gunners. Meanwhile, first-rounders Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Kevin Seraphin have offered little. The only young player making something of his talent is forward Trevor Booker.

We rated Washington's management 27th, based largely on the fact that general manager Ernie Grunfeld made several disastrous moves to get them into this mess (starting with the Gilbert Arenas contract) and doesn't seem any closer to paddling them out of it. Washington will have massive cap space if it grants amnesty to Rashard Lewis and will continue to get high lottery picks, but if its decision-makers can't make better decisions, none of that will matter.

(Previous rank: 17)

23. Milwaukee Bucks | Future Power Rating: 504

201 (24th) 94 (14th) 116 (14th) 28 (24th) 60 (10th)

The Bucks' rise and fall continues to be well-documented by our rankings over the past two years. In our first FPR, we had them ranked 29th. Less than a year later, the team was ranked 18th after the draft steal of Brandon Jennings and a surprise playoff run. But the struggles over the past year and a half have them settling back down into the mid-20s.

Take a look: Andrew Bogut and Jennings are both talents, but the supporting cast in Milwaukee is both overpaid and underperforming. Whatever magic coach Scott Skiles was able to work in the past seems to be waning. The team lacks substantial financial flexibility going forward. And Milwaukee isn't exactly a free-agent hot spot.

A sudden jump by young players like Tobias Harris or Larry Sanders could help their cause. So could a high pick in the coming NBA draft. But short of that, the Bucks appear to be trapped in a sort of purgatory -- good enough to win some games, but not good enough to make a real push toward contention.

(Previous rank: 24)

24. Sacramento Kings | Future Power Rating: 475

260 (17th) 22 (29th) 93 (17th) 24 (27th) 76 (7th)

The Kings don't know whether they're coming or going literally. Sacramento is trying to fund an arena to keep the team there, but they could easily be in Seattle, Anaheim, Kansas City or someplace else next season. The uncertainty that hangs over the team's future in the city is also likely holding it up from pursuing other moves, such as the long-overdue housecleaning in the front office.

We ranked Sacramento's management 29th; while they finally saw fit to remove Paul Westphal as coach, head-scratching moves remain the norm. Sacramento traded down in the draft to acquire John Salmons' deadweight contract, and made Marcus Thornton the latest in a litany of unusually generous contracts for their own players. Moves like these have left the Kings near the bottom of the standings despite a profusion of high lottery picks.

There is some talent here, though. Tyreke Evans is a devastating slasher and would likely be even better if they'd give up on making him a point guard, while bruising DeMarcus Cousins needs to mature but certainly has star talent.

The cap situation is decent, too. While the Kings have a few bad contracts, one of them can be removed via amnesty to put them well under the cap in any offseason they choose. We're just not sure how much ownership can spend given their financial distress, and that will be the case until the arena issue is resolved and/or the team is sold to somebody with deeper pockets.

(Previous rank: 18)

25. Orlando Magic | Future Power Rating: 437

211 (23rd) 56 (25th) 54 (25th) 58 (11th) 58 (11th)

The Magic were the most difficult team for us to rate, because one question looms over everything: whether Dwight Howard stays or goes. If he stays, obviously our ranking them 23rd in the players category is extremely pessimistic. On the other hand, if he goes, we might have them several spots too high. Of the rest of the roster, Ryan Anderson is the only quality young player.

Around them, Magic GM Otis Smith has assembled several veterans with large contracts and modest contributions; his most recent trophies include Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, Glen Davis, Chris Duhon and the since-amnestied Gilbert Arenas. We rated Orlando 25th in management largely based on Smith's proclivity for shooting money out the firehouse to put out any ember of a roster hole, leaving the Magic in a position where they might lose Howard and still not have appreciable cap space next summer. The only reason they weren't lower is that they still have one of the league's top bench jockeys in Stan Van Gundy.

Their spendthrift ways are also why we rated Orlando 25th in money; while ownership has shown it's willing to spend, the future cap space isn't great unless the Magic can package one or more of their big contracts in a Howard trade.

The best news is that the Magic are still in Orlando. With a gleaming new arena, a sunny climate and no state taxes, this team should be a strong free-agent draw as long as it can remain even remotely competitive. Of course, that's partly how the Magic ended up in this predicament in the first place.

(Previous rank: 11)

irondarts 02-08-2012 06:23 PM

Re: Insider Request: Future Power Rankings


26. Toronto Raptors | Future Power Rating: 434

123 (27th) 70 (22nd) 123 (12th) 38 (19th) 80 (6th)

Virtually nothing has changed since we checked in on them last March. The Raptors are still a long, long way from coming together in a coherent fashion. Overall, they slipped another spot in the rankings to No. 26 as they continue to idle at the bottom of the East standings.

But there are reasons for optimism. For starters, many NBA scouts are very high on last year's draft pick, Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas, who should allow the Raptors to play Andrea Bargnani (who continues to improve his game) at his more natural position at the 4 next season. The team is also in line for a high pick this June in what looks to be a very strong draft. In addition, Toronto could get significant cap room this summer if it uses its amnesty clause.

On the downside, much of their young talent is still a work in progress. After a terrific sophomore season, DeMar DeRozan has regressed quite a bit this season. The team also still has gaping holes at both the small forward and point guard positions going forward (Jose Calderon is solid, but he's not the point guard of the future). And even with the cap room, will it really matter? Lots of teams are poised to have major cap space the next few years, and Toronto hasn't really been a marquee destination for top free agents.

(Previous rank: 25)

27. New Orleans Hornets | Future Power Rating: 428

111 (28th) 78 (19th) 115 (15th) 27 (25th) 97 (2nd)

The big word here is uncertainty. There is no certainty about anything for the post-Chris Paul Hornets, starting with whether they'll still be the New Orleans Hornets two years from now, so it's difficult to get too excited about their future. The only good young player of consequence is guard Eric Gordon, who will be a restricted free agent after the season; with the Hornets under the stewardship of the league at the moment, it's not clear whether they'll get approval to match a max contract offer. Other teams know this, and make no mistake: The sharks are already circling.

Otherwise, the Hornets are a mishmash of passable veterans and quasi-interesting younger players, one that could probably win three-fifths of its games if the league stayed out of its hair and everybody stayed healthy. That's pretty much the ceiling.

We rated the Hornets' management 18th largely based on the fact that general manager Dell Demps and head coach Monty Williams were doing pretty solid work before the league interceded, and at some point they'll be able to call the shots again. In the meantime, however, it's tough to get excited about Stu Jackson moonlighting as a GM when he's not handing out suspensions.

The Hornets will get help from the draft, but not as much as hoped; the unprotected first-rounder they got from Minnesota in the Paul trade may only turn out to be in the teens. Meanwhile, the search for an owner drags on. Until a buyer turns up, the Hornets are adrift.

(Previous rank: 23)

28. Detroit Pistons | Future Power Rating: 400

150 (26th) 78 (18th) 56 (23rd) 26 (26th) 90 (3rd)

The Pistons hit near-rock bottom last March and appear stuck there a year later. The good news? There's nowhere to go but up and there are signs the Pistons could be heading that direction soon.

Detroit actually moved up a spot from 27th to 26th in the roster category thanks to the addition of rookie Brandon Knight. Pair him with an emerging Greg Monroe and some other young pieces -- Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko and possibly Austin Daye -- and the Pistons do have some talent.

We're also very positive about their future draft possibilities. The team desperately needs size and there are a number of intriguing big men at the top of the 2012 NBA draft, led by Kentucky's shot-blocking machine Anthony Davis. If the Pistons can land him (or UConn's Andre Drummond or Kansas' Thomas Robinson) the impact on the court should be immediate.

The addition of new owner Tom Gores also is a positive. For the past few seasons GM Joe Dumars' hands have been tied as the widow of former Pistons owner Bill Davidson tried to sell the team. Dumars should be able to be much more aggressive going forward.

The two downsides for the team are significant, however. Regrettable contracts to Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and (possibly) Tayshaun Prince will keep the Pistons from making significant additions via free agency. We also continue to hammer the Pistons on the market front. Detroit's economy is in a shambles and the once-rocking Palace is a graveyard these days.

(Previous rank: 28)

29. Phoenix Suns | Future Power Rating: 350

50 (29th) 18 (30th) 140 (8th) 59 (10th) 83 (5th)

Our rankings have been really effective in predicting the rise of certain teams like the Pacers. It's also been strongly predictive of the catastrophic fall of a few teams like the Suns, who have slipped again from 26th to 29th this time.

They might just stay there a while.

Besides Steve Nash, Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley, every other player on the roster who gets significant minutes has a PER below the league average. Meanwhile Nash is in the last year of his deal and the Suns continue to insist they don't want to trade him. The truth is, given how long they've waited, it's doubtful they could get much back in return anyway.

If Nash and Grant Hill bolt, the Suns will have some cap space next summer. But thanks to the senseless contracts owner Robert Sarver gave Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress two summers ago it won't be nearly as much as it could have been. Besides, who exactly on the free-agent market is going to replace Nash when he's gone?

Sarver's bumbling over the past few years has caused us to rank the Suns' management 30th in the league. Yes, we think even Minnesota's David Kahn and Glen Taylor could do this better. That's saying something.

The only good news? The team should have enough cap room to make at least one significant free-agent addition this summer, and the team should have high draft picks in the next few years. There's really not much more to say.

(Previous rank: 26)

30. Charlotte Bobcats | Future Power Rating: 338

47 (30th) 33 (28th) 137 (9th) 23 (28th) 98 (1st)

This is why we had Charlotte ranked dead last for most of the past two years even as it was challenging for the playoffs. With the roster bereft of young talent, the roster capped out and the management lacking, it was inevitable that the Bobcats would end up in the position they're in right now.

The good news is that the recovery is slowly under way. We rated Charlotte's roster last given its glaring lack of star talent, but it has five or six young players who have established themselves as decent rotation players. And while we had Charlotte's management 28th -- it's tough to inspire too much confidence in Michael Jordan's stewardship after the ridiculous Tyson Chandler trade in the summer of 2010 -- newly hired general manager Rich Cho managed to pluck Byron Mullens from Oklahoma City and steer the Bobcats away from the tragic cap moves that were previously their standard course.

Charlotte will have draft picks and cap space, including a first-rounder from Portland in 2012, and while it owes a pick to Chicago from the Tyrus Thomas trade it's not likely to be conveyed to the Bulls until 2015 at the earliest -- which is beyond our three-year window for this evaluation. Keep an eye on that time bomb, however, as it could give Chicago a high lottery pick in 2016 when it becomes unprotected.

(Previous rank: 30)

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