It seems the Cleveland Cavaliers are not destined to be the best team in the NBA over the next three seasons.
According to ESPN’s Future Power Rankings, the Cavaliers are ranked as the third-best team, behind the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. The rankings project on-court success expected for each team over the next three seasons.
Five categories were considered in the ranking system including players, management, money, market and the draft. In the “players” category, no single team graded better than the Cavaliers.
However, ESPN justifies the Warriors and Spurs being ranked above the Cavaliers due mainly to salary cap reasons:
“Cleveland sits behind the Warriors and Spurs for a couple of reasons. First, the Cavaliers are almost certain to remain capped out for the next few years, meaning the trade exception they created by trading Brendan Haywood is the team’s best hope of adding to the rotation.
“Beyond that, we’re still not as confident in Cleveland’s management as the stable organizations in Golden State and San Antonio. Even as the Cavaliers reached the NBA Finals, James was publicly undermining coach David Blatt.”
The Cavaliers are considered by ESPN as the favorites to win the NBA Finals this upcoming season, but there seems to be a lingering doubt that the team can sustain that level of success over the next couple of seasons.
In the case of the Spurs, it’s hard to pitch an argument against San Antonio. Since the franchise won its first title with Tim Duncan in 1999, they’ve been the NBA’s model franchise. They have made the playoffs every year since Duncan’s rookie season in 1997-98.
As far as the Warriors are concerned, there is little doubt that they have the best young roster in the league. Reigning MVP Steph Curry is just 27 years of age, while Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are both just 25 years of age.
Before the Cavaliers start worrying about being the best team in the NBA during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, they’ll have to make sure they’re the the No. 1 team in the league for the 2015-16 season.