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ESPN predicts long-term mediocrity for Toronto Raptors in Future Power Rankings

The Future Power Rankings are out, and ESPN writers have projected the Raptors success over the next three seasons. Let's get riled up.

Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

If you were to put together a definitive Power Ranking of NBA Power Rankings, the ESPN Insider's Future Power Rankings would be in the upper echelon. An annual list, it uses off-season moves to project a team's success for the next three seasons.

ESPN Insiders Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton have a lot of crazy metrics and research to back this stuff up, I'm sure. But you, the reader, are more interested in results. So, where do the Toronto Raptors fall in these crystal ball rankings? Well friend, it's the place they end up in most power rankings - smack dab in the middle of the league.

Yes, the Raptors are ranked 16th, down five spots from last year and firmly into the realm of mediocre. They received high scores for draft and management, but low scores for players and market (whatever that means).

Here's what Pelton has to say about the team:

After getting swept out of the playoffs last spring, the Raptors overhauled their roster this summer. If that doesn't work, bigger changes could be ahead.

Toronto's defense collapsed last season, dropping from ninth to 23rd on a per-possession basis. To rectify that, the Raptors upgraded their perimeter D with free agents Cory Joseph and DeMarre Carroll replacing liabilities Greivis Vasquez and Lou Williams. However, Toronto also lost stalwart (and ESPN real plus-minus favorite) Amir Johnson.

If the Raptors struggle again, coach Dwane Casey could be the scapegoat. And GM Masai Ujiri has the chance to rebuild the roster again next summer, when Toronto could have max-level cap space if 2014 All-Star DeMar DeRozan opts out of his contract. The Raptors also have a good shot at a top five pick: They get the worse of the picks belonging to Denver and New York from the Andrea Bargnani trade.

So it seems buddy cops Pelton and Ford have the same general opinion of the Raptors as many after this off-season - on paper, they're better, but the proof will be in the pudding. On-court success will be needed before the experts can declare this right turn in personnel a good thing.

That said, I'll readily admit to thinking 16 is low. This team has young players, draft picks, and plenty of cap flexibility in the next two off-seasons to make major splashes in free agency. To say that the team's long-term situation is markedly worse this off-season as compared to last is a bit of a stretch, in my mind.

The Future Power Rankings top five, if you're curious, are (in order) Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland, Chicago, and Houston. If you are an Insider, you can read the entire article here. You can also read about how the scores are weighted and how the rankings come together.

What are your thoughts on these Power Rankings? Give us a Power Rankings of your emotions.