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
CATEGORY RANKINGS: See how each team ranked in each category
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.
To rank the 30 teams, we asked ESPN Insider analysts Chad Ford, Amin Elhassan, Tom Haberstroh and Kevin Pelton to rate each team in each category. We also asked our ESPN Forecast panel to rate each team in the Players, Management and Market categories.
4. San Antonio Spurs | Future Power Rating: 774
PLAYERS MANAGEMENT MONEY MARKET DRAFT
378 (9th) 170 (1st) 125 (8th) 55 (13th) 44 (19th)
We recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Spurs being considered too old to remain contenders. Instead, San Antonio is heading in the opposite direction in the Future Power Rankings; this is the highest the Spurs have ever ranked in the FPR, dating back to November 2009. San Antonio certainly has benefited from this year's Finals run, but the Spurs' future would be promising no matter what.
Quietly, San Antonio has managed its salary structure to potentially have more than $20 million in cap space this summer. In practice, much of that will go to re-signing free agents Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter, but Splitter's cap hold ($7.5 million) is reasonable enough that the Spurs could still clear about $10 million if Ginobili quickly agrees to a smaller new contract.
The flexibility is impressive given San Antonio has four starters under contract from this year's Western Conference champions. While the Spurs will see their depth take a hit with reserves DeJuan Blair, Gary Neal and possibly Boris Diaw (player option) hitting free agency, GM R.C. Buford and head coach Gregg Popovich have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to find cheap newcomers they can plug into San Antonio's system.
The biggest looming question is how long Duncan can continue to anchor the Spurs. He has two years left (including a player option) on the contract he signed last summer and is coming off a season as good on a per-minute basis as any since the 2007 championship. As long as Duncan competes at a high level, so too will San Antonio.
Let's Have A Black Celebration!!!
-Depeche Mode 1986