The ESPN Forecast Panel added to the Spurs lovefest when they picked the Spurs to win the 2015 NBA Championship and now The Mothership has doubled down on the Spurs this off-season as its Insider analysts Chad Ford, Amin Elhassan, Tom Haberstroh and Kevin Pelton considered the next three NBA seasons and deemed the San Antonio Spurs the franchise with the brightest future.
All 30 teams were ranked 0-100 in five weighted categories: Players (worth 50%) Management (16.7%) Money (16.7%) Market (8.3%) and Draft (8.3%)
With 71.25 points, the Spurs edged out the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers for the top spot by just 4/10ths of a point. The top five is rounded out with the Thunder (69.12) Rockets (65.3) and Clippers (64.51.) Bringing up the rear are the Bucks in 26th with 36.43 points, Timberwolves (36.06) in 27th, Lakers (33.12) in 28th, Kings (27.32) in 29th and Nets last with 27.04 points.
If you have ESPN Insider you can check out the complete rankings. If not, here's an excerpt from the part about the Spurs:
This is the first time in Future Power Rankings' five-year history that the Spurs have ranked No. 1. Winning a championship will do that, and despite the age of San Antonio's three long-tenured stars, the Spurs' short-term future still appears bright.
Given the way coach Gregg Popovich has managed his players' minutes, there's reason to believe the Spurs can wring at least one more championship-caliber season out of aging veterans Tim Duncan (38) and Manu Ginobili (37).
San Antonio is counting on Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, 23, developing into the kind of player who can anchor a contending team.
If there's any management we trust to manage the future, it's the Spurs, who earned a perfect score. Popovich is clearly the league's best coach -- he might be as difficult to replace as Duncan when he decides to retire -- and GM R.C. Buford earned overdue honors as the league's Executive of the Year in 2013-14.
The Spurs finished fifth in Players, first in Management, 15th in Market, 22nd in Draft, and 15th in Money.
It's going to be a little tougher than usual for the Spurs to fly under the radar after such a successful campaign. They'll enter the 2014-15 season as the reigning champs, constructed by long-overdue GM of the Year winner R.C. Buford and led by the most recent, and three-time recipient, Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich.