The ESPN Future Power Rankings And The Toronto Raptors

Recently, ESPN released their Future Power Rankings. This is an exercise in projection, an attempt to project the on-court success of NBA teams over the next 3 seasons after 2012/13 season. Here is their scoring system:

PLAYERS (0 to 600 points): Current players and their potential for the future, factoring in expected departures

MANAGEMENT (0 to 200 points): Quality and stability of front office, ownership, coaching

MONEY (0 to 200 points): Projected salary-cap situation; ability and willingness to exceed cap and pay luxury tax

MARKET (0 to 100 points): Appeal to future acquisitions based on team quality, franchise reputation, city's desirability as a destination, market size, taxes, business and entertainment opportunities, arena quality, fans

DRAFT (0 to 100 points): Future draft picks; draft positioning

Now, obviously this process is wholly unscientific and subjective. That being said, there is some reason to the structure and it is impossible to come up with a completely objective/scientific result when examining this question as there are too many variables to account for. That being said, a few tweaks I would make:

1. I feel the Market component is ranked WAY to low in terms of point distribution. We see time and time again that market trumps almost everything – including opportunity to win – when it comes to attracting free agents (see Howard and the Nets, Melo and the Knicks, the Lakers ability to continually reload etc. etc. etc.)

2. Cap flexibility should have been rated as a more valuable component in this analysis. Although, again a cap flexibility component would be heavily subject to the Market component

So, where did the Raptors Rank in this analysis? Tied for 23rd with the Portland Trainblazers. Here’s what they had to say about the Raps:

23. (tie) Toronto Raptors | Future Power Rating: 486


183 (25th) 75 (20th) 136 (11th) 37 (21st) 55 (12th)

Raptors fans are hopeful that their team is about to turn the corner. Our formula isn't nearly as optimistic.

The team added three significant pieces this offseason. Kyle Lowry should add some much needed toughness at the point, Terrence Ross oozes potential at the wing and talented center Jonas Valanciunas is finally coming over after spending what would have been his rookie season abroad. Of the three, only Lowry expects to have an immediate impact on their record, as both Ross and Valanciunas are raw and will need time. Young players such as DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis still have a lot of room for growth, too.

On the downside, the Raptors spectacularly overpaid for Landry Fields in their quixotic attempt to lure Steve Nash to Toronto, and as a result, hampered their ability to have big-time cap space in the summer of 2013. At this point the Raptors won't have major cap space until 2014, when they may have to use much of it to re-sign Lowry and DeRozan. They also are unlikely to have their draft pick next year -- they sent it to the Rockets in the Lowry trade -- and by 2014, will probably be solid enough to warrant only a late lottery pick.

While the net result of the summer was baby steps in the right direction, Toronto needs a much more dramatic overhaul to be truly relevant again.

(Previous rank: 26)

So there you have it. 23rd. For the next 3 years AFTER this year... Just below mediocre. I can’t really argue with this and in fact, I actually think this analysis was kind to the Raps. If the Market component had factored higher as I recommended above, the Raps could have fared worse. The most critical point comes in the final sentence of the above excerpt:

...Toronto needs a much more dramatic overhaul to be truly relevant again.

Yup, the Raps need a complete rebuild – not some cockamamie accelerated rebuild – but you try telling that to Brian Colangelo. Furthermore, I hope fans that are against a total rebuild take stock of this. This is a projection by basketball “experts” and while not 100% infallible, the logic applied to the process is sound. So, if you are against a total rebuild, you are against “tanking” or – more accurately – building through the draft, I hope you are comfortable with rooting for the 23rd best team in the NBA for the next 4 years.

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