NBA Power Rankings – Team by Team

By Joe Kotoch

When looking at each team it’s easy to glance at a roster and say that team is a winner or a loser but the challenge is figuring out where that team stands among the rest of the league in the most critical categories to a franchise’s success. Pro Basketball Draft has created a formula to determine where all 30 teams are. This formula is weighted and was conducted by the staff at PBD along with several anonymous executives in and around the NBA. All teams were analyzed by their abilities to win this season and next season (35%); winning 3 seasons and beyond (25%); their brain trusts including ownership, front office, and coaching stability (15%); whether a team had a star, considered among the top 20 players in the NBA (5%); their financial flexibility (5%); and the quantity and quality of their assets, including young talent and draft picks (15%). The grading scale for each category ranges from 4 for excellence, 3 for above average, 2 for mediocrity, 1 for below average, 0 for failure to meet acceptable standards.

With respect to a team’s brain trust PBD looked at how stable the ownership and front office were and whether the coach has been successful there or in past opportunities. For example Portland has a great coach but their ownership has affected their front office which brought down their total score. As it relates to financial flexibility PBD presumes there will be a hard salary cap in the $62-65 million range. As for assets superstar talents such as Dwayne Wade and LeBron James are valuable assets but talents like Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose are more valuable due to their respective ages and salaries.

The Future’s So Bright You Gotta Wear Shades

The teams in this tier have a combination of talent, depth, assets, flexibility, and stable brain trusts that allow these teams to maximize their window of contention. While some teams, namely the Celtics appear old and close to rebuilding there is enough of a foundation and support from other categories to indicate Boston is not going anywhere. Every other team on this tier has an ensemble of young talent and emerging superstars that can help their respective teams contend for many years.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder – 3.95 {4/4/4/4/3/4}
2. Chicago Bulls – 3.80 {4/4/4/4/3/3}
3. Boston Celtics – 3.25 {4/2/4/3/3/3}
4. Denver Nuggets – 3.15 {3/3/3/2/4/4}
5. Utah Jazz – 3.10 {3/3/3/3/2/4}
6. Memphis Grizzlies – 3.05 {3/3/2/3/4/4}
6. Washington Wizards – 3.05 {2/4/3/3/3/4}
7. Los Angeles Clippers – 3.00 {2/4/2/4/4/4}

The Window of Contention is Opening or Closing

Teams in this tier vary from teams headed in the right direction with good foundation pieces ala Minnesota, Golden State, and Sacramento to teams in the midst of elite championship contention like Dallas, Miami, and Los Angeles. Veteran-laden teams like the Spurs and Hawks are also lumped into this tier because they are winning now but their futures are somewhat uncertain. Either way teams in this group are going to be competitive in the next few seasons or further down the road.

8. Minnesota Timberwolves – 2.95 {2/4/2/3/4/4}
9. Dallas Mavericks – 2.75 {4/1/4/4/3/1}
9. Houston Rockets – 2.75 {2/3/3/2/3/4}
9. Los Angeles Lakers – 2.75 {4/1/4/4/0/2}
9. Portland Trailblazers – 2.75 {3/3/1/4/3/3}
10. Golden State Warriors – 2.65 {2/3/3/3/3/3}
10. San Antonio Spurs – 2.65 {3/1/4/3/3/3}
11. Indiana Pacers – 2.60 {2/3/3/2/3/3}
11. Miami Heat – 2.60 {4/1/3/4/0/2}
12. New York Knicks – 2.40 {3/2/3/4/1/1}
13. Atlanta Hawks – 2.35 {3/2/2/3/1/2}
14. New Jersey Nets – 2.20 {2/3/2/3/3/1}
15. Phoenix Suns – 2.10 {2/2/2/3/3/2}
16. Sacramento Kings – 2.05 {1/3/1/3/4/3}

Call the Cleaning Lady this Place is a Mess

Teams in this tier are lacking an identity or the flexibility to bolster to their rosters. Some of the teams namely Toronto and Detroit are in the midst of massive rebuilding efforts but still have some promising pieces to hang their hats on. Teams such as Milwaukee and Orlando are restricted either by ownership or financial flexibility to due much in the way of adding to their rosters. The Magic similar to the Hornets are so committed to one superstar and trying to make their rosters attractive in order to keep them that they’ve sacrificed any ability to win in the longterm and if these superstars leave will cause these franchises to implode much the same way as the lowest ranked team in the NBA did.

17. Milwaukee Bucks – 1.95 {2/2/2/1/2/2}
17. Orlando Magic – 1.95 {3/1/2/4/0/1}
18. Charlotte Bobcats – 1.90 {2/2/2/1/4/1}
19. New Orleans Hornets – 1.85 {2/1/2/4/2/2}
20. Philadelphia 76ers – 1.80 {2/2/2/2/1/1}
21. Detroit Pistons – 1.75 {1/2/3/1/2/2}
22. Toronto Raptors – 1.20 {0/1/3/2/2/2}

It’s Not About Winning or Losing – It’s How You Play the Game

Unfortunately for Cleveland there was not much in terms of positives this past season with the losing and injuries. The Cavs had an opportunity to see if certain young players could blossom with playing time and increased roles but J.J. Hickson was erratic for much of the year and now is on the trade block while Ramon Sessions looked capable but hardly a high quality starting PG in the NBA. While Cleveland did get lucky winning the 1st overall pick and selecting Kyrie Irving they failed to maximize their value on draft day. Tristan Thompson is a fine player but it remains to be seen if he can do enough offensively to be anything more than a member of rotation. Further complicating matters is Cleveland’s internal pressure to win as mandated by ownership last summer in Comic Sans. What separates Cleveland from the rest of the league is other than Hickson and Sessions there is no other proven young talent on the roster. The Cavs long-term pieces are two rookies that haven’t played a moment and while the Cavs have multiple draft picks stockpiled over the next several years their front office hardly has proven itself capable of being mentioned along the likes of Sam Presti, R.C. Buford, or even Danny Ainge as some of the best in the business.

23. Cleveland Cavaliers – 0.30 {0/0/1/0/3/2}