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.