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Cavs ranked eighth in ESPN’s NBA Future Power Rankings

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been slotted in the eighth spot within ESPN’s annual Future Power Rankings. These rankings are based on forward-looking items such as age, salary cap flexibility and core players. The 2013 ranking represents a four-spot jump for the up-and-coming Cavs.

The Cavs are another team making a significant leap in our rankings, and landing the No. 1 pick in the draft for the second time in three years has something to do with that. While they might not be able to find another Kyrie Irving in this draft, they can pick a significant player (most likely Nerlens Noel) or trade the pick for immediate help.

Cleveland’s biggest jump came in the Players section, as Irving looks like a potential superstar. Tristan Thompson also started to develop, and Dion Waiters looks like a lethal scorer. Add in the No. 1 and No. 19 picks this year, as well as a plethora of future selections, and the Cavs will be loaded with young talent for the foreseeable future.

The team will also be flush with cash this summer and could add a significant free agent this summer or in the future, giving it even more roster flexibility. While all of this doesn’t totally make up for the loss of LeBron James, it shows the dramatic strides Cleveland has made in just three years. With the right draft picks or free-agent signings, the Cavs should start a long run of playoff appearances soon.

Current players, managament, salary cap projections, market appeal and draft positioning are all provided with numerical values. The Cavaliers currently rank as the best in the league in draft positioning and third in salary cap flexibility. Both players (12th) and management (13th) fall in amongst the top half of the league. The team’s biggest detractor was market appeal with Cleveland ranked 20th among its peers.

The Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls are the seven teams presently ranked ahead of the Cavaliers.

[Related: The Diff: The stats behind drafting Nerlens Noel at No. 1]

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Miami Heat – assuming they can afford to keep their core together past the next offseason…but they really shouldn’t be ahead of OKC in my opinion
    Oklahoma City Thunder – I get this. They have Ibaka, Westbrook and Durant locked up longterm…and that’s a core pretty much guaranteed to contend (barring injuries) year in and year out.
    Houston Rockets – I think they overpaid for Asik and Lin…and it will bite them hard when they don’t develop. They look (to me) to be the Atlanta Hawks (perennial playoff team with almost no chance to win a ring) of the West.
    San Antonio Spurs – Did Gregg Popovich sell his soul or something? Probably the best coach in the league…and he’s so good, he might be the 2nd best coach too.
    Golden State Warriors – They’re the new Phoenix Suns in my opinion. Fun to watch. Good talent. But not good enough.
    Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls – this is assuming that their owners can stomach paying luxury tax. I read somewhere that the Bulls owner is one of two owners to have never paid the luxury tax.
    I get why Cleveland isn’t ahead of these teams (we haven’t proven that the talent we have can win consistently) but I believe that next year, we jump up these ranks big time.

  • BenRM

    I like your take on the Rockets. I think it’s spot on if they can’t get Howard this offseason.

  • mgbode

    I agree as well with Houston except they are a bit more fun to watch than the Hawks 🙂

    Spurs – Pops has said he will retire with Timmy. So, if he actually does it, then they drop precipitously in 2-3 years.

    Pacers – enough young pieces they can stay under the luxury tax (though above the cap threshold) moving forward. Especially if they “give away” Granger.

    Bulls – I don’t think they need the luxury tax to keep Noah/Deng/Rose together. Pretty much everyone else on their team is easily swapped out in their system.

    Other teams competing with us to rise in these rankings:

    GS – as mentioned above (though they play better defense for Mark Jackson than PHX did).

    Washington – if they can get out of their own way and build a roster that can work together.

    Toronto – if they can figure out the frontcourt, then they will be a force (and fun). they have the most athletic backcourt/wings in the NBA outside of Miami (depth too for them).

    Memphis – Conley + Gasol should be a good combo for quite awhile. I understand them being a bit lower because the pieces around them might deteriorate due to financial concerns.

    Portland – Lillard isn’t as good as some think, but he is good. Add in Batum and Aldridge and they are a scoring SG away from a really nice team.

  • Jaker

    Market appeal should not have its own category. That’s why I hate these rankings. It’s like when the Heat got “Best Fans” (that hurt to type) and the Indians were the “Most Hated Team” because they don’t sell enough jerseys ( Forbes should never do anything involving sports IMO).

    But these top 8 make sense. I have no problem with this

  • architrance

    Why don’t they just call these “Power Rankings” – what exactly is “future” about this list? Miami at the top? Will they even have a future past next year? They have NO cap flexibility and only one first round draft pick in the next three years. I get ranking them on top now, but, the future??? And the Spurs in the top 4? Yeah, they’re still good, but how long is that core and Pop going to be around for?

    Glad I don’t pay for this garbage!

  • davelb87

    Until they prove themselves by winning basketball games, these ratings are meaningless.

  • mgbode

    ESPN is pushing a “Louisville has best college fans” today. Funny how they just pick the team that wins and says they have the best fans. No, that must just be a coincidence.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Houston is more fun because they don’t have a guy like Josh Smith chucking up ugly jumper after ugly jumper (or, at least not yet.) But defensively, the Hawks were a thing of beauty…and I love watching good defense as opposed to good offense.

    Forgot about Memphis (but I was only concentrating on the teams that were shown as ranked above us (because I don’t ESPN Insider…so I didn’t read the whole article)

    Another team that could be good is Detroit. Drummond looks like the real deal and when you add in Munroe (who is pretty good himself) they have a dangerous big-duo.

  • BenRM

    They obviously won the national championship BECAUSE their fans are so good!

    Fan power to the rescue.

  • mgbode

    Houston also had much better ball handlers initiating their offense. The Hawks need Chris Paul so much more than they need Dwight Howard (if they are going to make a run at a max-level guy). That’s really a big pet peeve of mine, a bad PG iniating things makes it brutal to try to watch a game.

    Detroit could be good, but I fully expect Dumars to see cap flexibility and go and sign low-level FAs to fill the void. Drummond/Monroe is certainly a good base to build from though.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    The title doesn’t make sense based on the criteria which is why the Cavaliers are that high. This is another one of those “imagined/creative” ideas by someone.

  • mgbode

    Ruh Roh to the Rams and their rules then.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Bibby wasn’t terrible (on offense) he just wasn’t anything near CP3. I do agree that Paul would make that team very dangerous moving forward. Having Paul and Horford together is just a sick combination. Because Horford is on such a (relatively) team friendly contract, they can afford to add some extra pieces that aren’t washed up (or soon to be washed up) players trying to chase rings. They can add a couple of valuable pieces fairly easily to that mix.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I can’t imagine my man CP3 going to Atlanta but you never know.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Horford might represent the best case scenario for CP3 to play alongside. He’s a great PnR partner with his athleticism. He’s a great PnP partner with his excellent shooting touch. He’s also a very good defender. He plays well as a center but is versatile enough that he could play PF if you wanted to go with a larger lineup. He’s young enough to have plenty of years left in his prime (barring an injury of course).

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Ultimately, it’s the slow period in the offseason…so it’s a writer trying to justify his/her job. There are no trades going on. There is no draft. There is no offseason workouts. There is no summer league. There really is nothing but speculative work to do.

  • steve-o

    HEY why aren’t they taking into account our 2015, first names are all we need, future starting lineup? Kyrie, Dion, LeBron, Tristan, Nerlens

  • mgbode

    Bibby hasn’t played in ATL in 2 seasons. Teague was their starting PG and while he’s a pretty good defender, he just isn’t that great at setting up an offense (though his assist numbers aren’t bad).

  • Ben Frambaugh

    There is no guarantee that Lebron is a free agent in 2014. So you can’t count on 2015 names. The most you can do is look at the current roster, make smart assumptions regarding rookies being resigned and know that we have a crap ton of cap space and draft picks moving forward.

  • steve-o

    I wasn’t being completely serious. Although, that lineup will probably be in the back of a lot of people’s minds until next July.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Yeah, I knew Bibby didn’t play for them…I was stupidly referencing something that wasn’t brought up in this conversation (or on this site) concerning the Hawks. I’m too active in too many places, lol.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    My bad…I’m too new here…so I haven’t gotten everyone’s online personalities down yet. And unfortunately, sarcasm can be difficult to pull off on the interwebz…when there are so many trolls around.

  • Steve

    In the article they state they are looking at projected on court success over the next three years.

    The Heat will still be huge favorites to win it all next year. If you are putting an over/under on the number of titles over the next three seasons, does anyone have a higher mark than the Heat?

    And the Spurs will certainly have their management still in place, Duncan and Parker are under contract for two more years, and they’ll almost certainly re-sign Ginobili this offseason. Yes, they have questions down the road, but they’ll still pile up wins as long as Duncan is there (as the article states).

    I really don’t see much I disagree with in the article. Yes, the Heat and Spurs’ runs may end within a couple years, but I like their odds of winning a championship just next year more than I like the odds of the Warriors, Pacers, Bulls, Cavs, Nuggets or Jazz in any of the next three.