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ESPN predicts the Lakers will be the second-best franchise in the NBA for the next three seasons, behind the Clippers

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The Clippers will be the best team in Los Angeles for the next few years, according to ESPN, but the Lakers will try and change those projections sooner rather than later.

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NBA: MAR 08 Lakers at Clippers Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Things have gone pretty well for the Los Angeles Lakers this season. Coming off of a disappointing 2018-19 season, the Lakers stand atop of the Western Conference with a 49-14 record — 5.5 games ahead of the No. 2 seed LA Clippers — thanks in no small part to their superstar tandem of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

It’s for that reason ESPN ranked the Lakers second in their Future Power Rankings, which is their highest ranking since August 2010. For those that are unfamiliar with ESPN’s Future Power Rankings, they use five categories — players, management, money, market and draft — to predict which teams will be the most successful over the next three years. Here’s how the Lakers ranked out of 30 teams in each category:

Players: T-1st

Management: T-15

Money: 10

Market: 1

Draft: 28

The biggest jump the Lakers have made since October — the last time ESPN released their Future Power Rankings — is in the management category. In October, they were ranked No. 23, which makes sense because their top basketball executive, Magic Johnson, abruptly resigned in April of last year and they didn’t formally fill his position until January. The fact that their negotiations with Tyronn Lue fell apart probably didn’t help their image, either.

Fortunately for the Lakers, the success they’ve enjoyed this season has made the bad times seem like ages ago, when really it was just under a year ago. Their work isn’t done, though, according to ESPN. Just ahead of the Lakers in the three-year projections are the Clippers, and it’s not hard to see why.

The Clippers’ All-Star tandem of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are both under contract until 2021, and they’ll be 30 and 31, respectively, when they hit free agency again. Meanwhile, Davis will have the opportunity to be a free agent this summer, and James will be 36 years old in 2021, when he’ll have the opportunity to opt out of his contract. The Lakers may be the better team now, but the Clippers have some semblance of stability with the players on their roster, including a few players outside of Leonard and George.

The hope is that a championship and a brand new contract for Davis will put the Lakers ahead of the Clippers at the start of next season.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.