Future Power Rankings: Teams 1 to 5

The ESPN.com crystal ball says that the future NBA standings will have some new faces at the top. ESPN.com Illustration

The Future Power Rankings are ESPN Insider's projection of the on-court success expected for each team during the 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons.

Consider this a convenient way to see in what direction your favorite team is headed.

Each of the NBA's 30 teams received an overall Future Power Rating of 0 to 1,000, based on how well we expected each team to perform in the three seasons following this season.

To determine the Future Power Rating, we rated each team in five categories (see table at right).

As you can see, we determined that the most important category was a team's current players and the future potential of those players -- that category accounted for 40 percent of each team's overall Future Power Rating.

At the same time, we looked at many other factors, such as management, ownership, coaching, a team's spending habits, its cap situation, the reputation of the city and the franchise, and what kind of draft picks we expected the team to have in the future.

To reach our ratings in each category, we talked to teams to get a handle on their future strategies, we looked at their contractual commitments and we carefully broke down each roster to figure out which players would improve, which would decline and which would likely depart.

We expect these rankings to evolve as the season moves along, trades are made, injuries occur, strategies shift, and so on. Return from time to time as we update the rankings.

Here are our current rankings, from 1 to 30:

Future Power Rankings: "http://insider.espn.com/nba/news/story?page=FuturePowerRankings-1-091110">1-5 | "http://insider.espn.com/nba/news/story?page=FuturePowerRankings-2-091110">6-10 | "http://insider.espn.com/nba/news/story?page=FuturePowerRankings-3-091110">11-15 | "http://insider.espn.com/nba/news/story?page=FuturePowerRankings-4-091110">16-20 | "http://insider.espn.com/nba/news/story?page=FuturePowerRankings-5-091110">21-25 | "http://insider.espn.com/nba/news/story?page=FuturePowerRankings-6-091110">26-30

1. Portland Trail Blazers | Future Power Rating: 688

On paper, no other team possesses as bright a future as the Portland Trail Blazers. It all starts with the players. Nobody, not even Oklahoma City, can match the stable of young talent the Blazers have built. Brandon Roy is already a superstar, and joining him are potential stars like LaMarcus Aldridge (24), Greg Oden (21, even if he looks more like 51), Nicolas Batum (20) and Martell Webster (22). That doesn't even count the other assets the Blazers have that could eventually pan out, such as talented second-year benchwarmer Jerryd Bayless and a veritable farm team in Europe that includes Joel Freeland, Petteri Koponen and Victor Claver.

Portland also gets strong grades in other categories. The management under GM Kevin Pritchard has been rock-solid, with the only minor quibble being the decision to draft Oden ahead of Kevin Durant -- a decision, one should remember, that all 30 GMs were prepared to make, even if a lot of fans and analysts weren't. In terms of money, the Blazers have no cap room to speak of for the foreseeable future, but being owned by one of the world's wealthiest men in a rabid city where sellouts are the norm means the Blazers can comfortably go into luxury tax and beyond should the need arise.

Portland market didn't score as highly in the market category -- witness Hedo Turkoglu's about-face -- as sad, dreary winters, the nation's highest state taxes and a relative lack of diversity for a major metropolitan area limit its attractiveness to free agents. They stay in the middle of the pack in this category largely due to Allen's largesse, with first-rate team facilities, and the fact that a lot of players grow to like the place once they've been there -- it helped bring Steve Blake back, for instance.

The draft is where Portland scored poorly, but even that is a positive in a sense -- with such a bright future, it can expect to pick in the mid-to-late 20s in coming seasons.

2. Orlando Magic | Future Power Rating: 683

The Magic look like one of the league's teams to beat in 2009-10, and we're guessing that will continue to be the case for the following three years as well. Orlando is blessed with a young superstar big man in Dwight Howard, and most of the veteran cast around him -- Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson, Mickael Pietrus and Vince Carter, for example -- should remain spry enough to contribute strongly to the cause for a few more seasons. There is young talent, too, in Brandon Bass, Ryan Anderson, J.J. Redick and Marcin Gortat. But it appears we can stop mentioning that they own the rights to Fran Vazquez.

In the front office, the Magic have several strengths -- one of the league's premier coaches in Stan Van Gundy, the committed ownership of the DeVos family and an underrated general manager in Otis Smith. That pushed Orlando to a fourth-best finish in this category.

When it comes to money, Orlando has no cap space for the foreseeable future. The Magic are willing to pay the tax, however, despite their small market, and the new arena that comes online next year should help considerably on the money front.

They also benefit from one of the league's most desirable markets. Orlando's balmy weather, the Magic's winning ways and the lack of state taxes in Florida combine to put them near the top of the list for any prospective free agent.

The one area in which the Magic can't expect much further help is the draft -- it appears they'll be picking somewhere between 27th and 30th for the next few years.