Insider Request: ESPN Top 5 Power Rankings

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uncool
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http://m.espn.go.com/nba/story?storyPag ... s-1-130923

TheDude
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6Chicago Bulls

The bar graphs reflect the average points given by the voters for each category.

The Bulls are still trying to claw their way back into the top five after ranking No. 1 when Derrick Rose was putting the final touches on his MVP season back in March 2011. Evidently, we're not totally sold on Rose's health and the Bulls' interlocked future. But they made some progress this offseason, inching up one spot since the last time we took their temperature back in May when the depleted roster fell to the Heat.

What's holding them back from cracking the top five? Their bloated books. The Bulls decided to pass on using the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer, who's due $32 million over the next two seasons. Keep in mind, they're paying Taj Gibson $33 million over the next four years, so the Bulls are willingly handing a starter's salary to a backup. They'll pay the tax this season, but the Bulls' cap situation should lighten up this summer when Luol Deng's and Kirk Hinrich's contracts come off the books. That said, we're considerably bearish on this slice of the Bulls' picture.

Aside from some turbulence between Tom Thibodeau and the front office, this was a pretty quiet offseason, but Bulls fans have a lot to be excited about. After an injury-riddled season, the team's core is set to take the floor together for the first time in more than a year along with the help of new signee Mike Dunleavy. Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler looks like the real deal and European stud Nikola Mirotic could be wearing Bulls red this time next year after being stashed away since the 2011 draft. After a trying 2012-13 season, things are looking up for the Bulls in 2013-14.

-- Tom Haberstroh

(Previous rank: 7)

7Indiana Pacers

The bar graphs reflect the average points given by the voters for each category.

The Indiana Pacers gave the Miami Heat all they could handle in the Eastern Conference finals in June. Larry Bird returned as the team president. And the Pacers made a significant free-agent addition -- Luis Scola -- in the summer. Despite all of that, somehow the team managed to slip one spot in the Future Power Rankings for a second time.

The Pacers' dip comes at the hands of a reduced Money score. The team used its moderate cap flexibility this summer to re-sign veteran forward David West. With a large contract for Paul George in the works and big deals for Roy Hibbert and George Hill already on the books, the Pacers' days of cap flexibility have come to an end, and their score reflects that.

Every other category remains roughly the same. We still believe they have one of the top five rosters in the NBA, have excellent management and don't have a great market or draft position going forward.

If George continues to improve, Hibbert plays consistently well and West can hold it together a couple more seasons, the Pacers have the best chance in the East of dethroning the Heat and bringing home an NBA title or two.

-- Chad Ford

(Previous rank: 6)

8Los Angeles Clippers

The bar graphs reflect the average points given by the voters for each category.

The Clippers jumped four spots into the top 10, the biggest upward move of any team in the top half of the rankings. That reflects two developments in particular -- the Clippers bringing back Chris Paul as an unrestricted free agent and replacing Vinny Del Negro as head coach with Doc Rivers.

While Paul's new maximum six-year, $107 million contract was hardly surprising, making his return official still solidified the Clippers' position as contenders. They also upgraded their talent by swapping Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler for Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick, giving them a well-balanced starting lineup. Our panel bumped them from 10th to fifth in the Players category.

In terms of management, the Clippers took a bigger leap from 26th to 20th. While there's still skepticism about player-personnel decisions (and Rivers' role in them), there are no such issues with Rivers on the sideline. He's an immediate, massive upgrade over Del Negro.

Since the Clippers didn't add to their interior defense -- and lost their best defensive reserve in the frontcourt, Lamar Odom -- Rivers will have to earn his salary and the first-round pick the team sent Boston for his services by engineering the defensive improvement necessary for the Clippers to emerge from a crowded pack of Western Conference contenders.

-- Kevin Pelton

(Previous rank: 12)

9Cleveland Cavaliers

The bar graphs reflect the average points given by the voters for each category.

After making a pretty large leap in our last Future Power Rankings, the Cavs slid one spot in this edition. The small slippage comes, ironically, because of the improved nature of the team. The Cavs were ranked first in the Draft category last time after landing the No. 1 pick in the draft. Going forward, we believe the team will be greatly improved, and therefore the Cavs slide into a tie for fifth overall in the draft category.

Interestingly, nothing else has really changed for the Cavs despite the additions of No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett and Russian rookie Sergey Karasev and the signing of Andrew Bynum this summer. That lack of movement on the Players category reflects our general indifference toward the entire 2013 draft class and a healthy dose of skepticism centering on Bynum's ability to stay on the court.

If Bennett proves worthy of a No. 1 pick, if Karasev shows that his terrific play in Russia can translate to the NBA and, most importantly, if Bynum returns to form -- the Cavs' young core got significantly stronger this summer and the team should be in position to compete for one of the last playoff spots in the East.

-- Chad Ford

(Previous rank: 12)

10Memphis Grizzlies

The bar graphs reflect the average points given by the voters for each category.

Our last appraisal of the Memphis Grizzlies came right after the team's first trip to the Western Conference finals when there were nothing but good vibes in Bluff City. But since then, Memphis got swept out of the playoffs by the Spurs and dumped its popular head coach, Lionel Hollins. So why do we feel better about the Grizzlies' situation going forward?

For one, Memphis promoted Hollins' assistant David Joerger to fill the head-coaching job. The 39-year-old is the architect of the team's gritty defense and figures to be more on board with the analytically inclined front office. Whether that actually yields dividends beyond what Hollins could bring to the table remains to be seen. But Memphis did save some money by letting Hollins walk, which is no small thing for a franchise that occupies the second-smallest TV market in the league.

The Grizzlies' ranking rose slightly since our last edition mostly because of their progress in the money category. Not only did they save some cash with Joerger, they signed Mike Miller on the cheap, brought back Tony Allen at a reasonable price and traded for Kosta Koufos, who's a steal at $3 million next season. And with Rudy Gay gone, they have room to spare under the luxury tax.

-- Tom Haberstroh

TheDude
CTB MVP X1
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Top 5 are..

Heat

Houston

OKC

San Antonio

Golden State

Lakers come in at 21st

CP3Heliflopter
CTB MVP X2
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Lol this guy is terrible Cavs at 9? That is way too high unless Bynum comes back 100% healthy which is highly improbable. Clippers only at 8? Massive overrating of Houston and GSWs.

CapsNClips
CTB MVP X1
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The link says future power rankings. Is this future or present power rankings?

tense2
CTB MVP X2
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Agree with the massive overrating of GSW, but Houston is going to be a force.

We should be in the top 6 though.

BringMcadooBackado
Clipper 6th Man
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GSW beat us in the season series last year, made it further in the playoffs and added Andre Igoudala. They deserve to be ahead of us until we can prove otherwise.

Any team that adds Dwight Howard jumps into the top 6 teams in the minds of the sports media. Seriously, Bobcats get DH12 and they'd come in right behind San Antonio.

CapsNClips
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This is my Power Rankings list

  1. Heat - Obvious reasons

  2. Clippers - I tried putting us lower so I wouldn't seem like a homer, but I like our team too much. Doc makes us Elite.

  3. Spurs - Duncan might be the best big man in the league with a great young SF, an amazing PG and an even better Coach.

  4. Pacers - Easier road to the Conference Finals than the West teams. Paul George an all around Elite player.

  5. Thunder - They lost their 6th man, and are hoping Jeremy Lamb fills that void. That's a recipe for disaster, but they still have KD.

  6. Bulls - Thibs, Rose, Deng, Noah, Butler and Dunleavy Jr. That's a contender if I've ever seen one.

  7. Rockets - Dwight gets to finally play with a SG willing to pass to him in the post. FT's will be their downfall though.

  8. Warriors - They lost Jack who was their closer and Malone who was their Defensive guy. They added Iguodala who isn't trust worthy at the line.

  9. Nets - They won't be a great reg season team IMO, but come playoff time they will be as good as any.

  10. Knicks - This team is a cluster f*ck filled with pieces that won't fit together. Count on it.

slestack11
Clipper All-Star
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votes: 6

I like Bill Simmons analogy of Dwight Howard comparing him to an A list start like Jim Carrey. He appears to be a superstar and everyone chases him like a superstar, but he plays like some of Jim Carrey's most recent movies which were:

  1. Yes Man

  2. Mr. Poppers Penguins

  3. Incredible Burt Wonderstone

  4. Fun with Dick and Jane

Howard turned the Lakers from a #3 seed to a #8 seed just by joining them last season. With no rules against Hack a Shaq in place, he's a liability in the 4th quarter except that no team would have the audacity to bench him like the Clippers bench DeAndre. Plus, after Dwight stopped the HGH when his Orlando teammates all got caught, he hasn't been the same. He puts up numbers but costs his teams in win opportunity to get those numbers. If he wants to help his team, he would focus only on defense, but because he wants to be a "superstar", he will never play that role and that is why any team he plays for will never win.

Heediot
Clipper Starter
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votes: 4

If this is a futures Power Ranking, I think the Spurs are too high. I don't see them being a top 4 western team in a few years. I don't have a problem with some of the other teams ranked ahead of us because it is debatable and some teams have a lot of trade chips to improve/build on.

dukenilnil
Clipper Rookie
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votes: 0

It's a future power ranking based on some random formula combining current roster, team management, future salary cap projections, future draft picks, and market (aka, city coolness).

Nothing to see here really, just a a way to make a "power ranking" with some unusual places for teams to get page clicks and discussions

TheDude
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Not that this is important whatsoever, just something ESPn does in the offseason. But the point is it's a power rankings for the 16-17 season. You can't see the graphs in the copy/paste but they're rating management, location, players, money, and draft picks to determine who is going to be the best teams 3 seasons from now.

Even as power rankings go, these are pretty low on the totem pole. But it's pretty detailed write ups for us nba fanatics and that is cool.

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