ESPN released its annual Future Power Rankings of NBA franchises, ranking all 30 teams in five categories to come up with one score to rule them all. Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks mulled over the categories of players, management, money, market and draft on a scale of 1-100, then boil it down to an overall score.
The overall question they look to answer is simple: Which direction is each of the 30 teams headed over the next three seasons?
The Los Angeles Lakers seem to have raised some confidence in their rebuild efforts following the hiring of Magic Johnson and drafting of Lonzo Ball. The franchise moved up from 25th last summer to 17th, which is a pretty solid swing in the right direction. If nothing else, the Lakers are making believers.
Our beloved franchise ranked first in market, taking a score of 90. It ranked second in money at 92.5. Things are less-peachy from there, with the Lakers ranking 21st in players (37.5), 17th in management (45) and 23rd in draft (37.5)
What makes the Lakers a wild card, though, is the cap space they’ll have to use next summer to lure a pair of superstars to Los Angeles next summer. Here’s what ESPN’s Kevin Pelton had to say about the Lakers’ ranking (via ESPN Insider):
The scoring system for the Future Power Rankings may not accurately capture the reasons for optimism in L.A. after last season's management shakeup positioned the Lakers to be the biggest players in free agency next summer.
Because most teams struggle to build through free agency -- as the Lakers themselves have in recent seasons -- money and market usually play a relatively small role in the final score. However, the Lakers' combination of the top-rated market and the potential to clear more cap space than any other team has them poised to potentially sign a pair of max free agents. James and George? Westbrook? Lakers fans can dream big.
A windfall in free agency might not make the Lakers' young core into instant contenders, but it gives them far more upside by the end of the three-year window than many teams ahead of them.
ESPN paints a picture of the Lakers moving in the right direction, and but a star free agent or two away from being back as an NBA power sooner rather than later.