Blazers Move Up To 11th In ESPN's Future Power Rankings
A couple of times a year, the NBA guys at ESPN.com put together their Future Power Rankings with the goal of handicapping each team for the next three seasons. They award a score between zero and 100 in five categories -- players, management, money, market and draft -- then come up with an average of the scores from those five categories, which gives a team their "future ranking."
This season, the Trail Blazers are ranked No. 11
with a score of 52.9, up three spots from their No. 14 ranking in May of 2013. Our friend Kevin Pelton wrote the synopsis of Portland's rank and had this to say ...
Portland already had its core in place, with All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge surrounded by promising rookie of the year Damian Lillard and forward Nicolas Batum as well as steady Wesley Matthews. To that foundation, the Blazers have now added the depth that was sorely missing last season. After signing Mo Williams and Dorell Wright, trading for Robin Lopez and Thomas Robinson and drafting C.J. McCollum, Portland goes two-deep at every position and is ready to compete for a playoff spot.
By this time next year, we should have a better idea of the Blazers' long-term direction. That hinges on Aldridge, whose contract is up in the summer of 2015. If Aldridge signals a desire to play elsewhere, Portland is likely to trade him for a package of young prospects and draft picks.
At the same time, Portland retains plenty of flexibility to be a player in free agency in 2015, when it could have max-level cap space to build around Batum, Lillard and the return for Aldridge. That potential explains why the Blazers actually improved to eighth in the Money category despite their shopping spree this summer.
The Trail Blazers get rankings in the 50's in four of the five categories, with their best rating being a 59.3 in the Money category, likely thanks to the cap flexibility Pelton references and Paul Allen's typical willingness to pay the luxury tax if necessary. Portland's worst rating was 31.8 in the Draft category, likely because of the conditional first-round pick the team still owes the Charlotte Bobcats from the Gerald Wallace trade.
The Trail Blazers are flanked by the Memphis Grizzlies at No. 10 with a score of 56.2 and the Dallas Mavericks at No. 12 with a score of 52.9. The only Northwest Division team ranked above the Trail Blazers is the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 3, for rather obvious reasons.