The Cleveland Cavaliers employ LeBron James, probably for life. They just signed Kyrie Irving to a five year maximum contract. They traded for Kevin Love, a 26 year old power forward who has a skillset that perfectly aligns with what Irving and James try and do.
It's unlikely any of the three will wear anything other than the Wine & Gold for the next five seasons. So is it enough to secure the number one spot on ESPN's (Insider) power rankings that project the future? Well, I'm guessing you read the headline. No, it isn't enough. The Cavaliers rank second, behind the San Antonio Spurs. Interestingly, if I were to do current power rankings, the Spurs would probably be the only team I'd put over the Cavs.
Cleveland had previously ranked ninth, so this is quite the jump. The biggest difference, of course, is the player personnel. Though the Spurs are the reigning NBA champions, and should probably be favored to repeat, the Cavaliers get credit for having the best personnel in the league:
The Cavs jumped from No. 13 to No. 1 in our players category. Adding the best player in the NBA and another top-10 player to your roster while giving up young players who have yet to contribute anything will do that. The core of James, Love and Kyrie Irving looks like the best big three in basketball. When you add in support players such as Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao, Shawn Marion and Mike Miller -- the Cavs look like a stronger edition of last year's No. 1 team -- the Heat.
One thing that is kind of neat about the rankings: we've all listened to Cleveland as a city and market take a beating over the years from fans of different teams. In terms of this forecast though, Cleveland ranks as the 11th best NBA market now. This is almost all a result of LeBron James, of course. Him being a Cavalier makes the city desirable. That being said, LeBron James had to desire playing in Cleveland for this to be a factor in the first place. And while it is close to his home, there are quite a few people who enjoy playing for places that aren't home. Cleveland was a destination for James, and that's no small feat.
Should they be behind the Spurs if you are looking at the long term? I don't know. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker ... they can't keep doing this forever, right? Maybe they can. Maybe with as good as the organization is, it just doesn't matter like it would for other towns.
I'm fine with a second place ranking. For now.