The last two NBA champions are the top two teams in ESPN's future power rankings released today. Both teams have beaten LeBron James-led teams in the last two NBA Finals, and both teams have a brighter future than LeBron's Cavaliers; at least, that's what ESPN's formula says.
In terms of the current rosters, no team graded out higher for the rankings than the Cleveland Cavaliers, and that's a good omen heading into what figures to be Cleveland's best chance at a title since 2010, LeBron's last year in his first stint. The Cavs have a loaded roster of stars and role players, and these rankings reflect that. So why aren't the Cavs on top of the future rankings?
Cleveland sits behind the Warriors and Spurs for a couple of reasons. First, the Cavaliers are almost certain to remain capped out for the next few years, meaning the trade exception they created by trading Brendan Haywood is the team's best hope of adding to the rotation.
Beyond that, we're still not as confident in Cleveland's management as the stable organizations in Golden State and San Antonio. Even as the Cavaliers reached the NBA Finals, James was publicly undermining coach David Blatt.
This is largely fair, I think, but I'm also not sure it ultimately matters. The Cavs will win it or not win it with the core they have right now. The Warriors, Spurs, and perhaps a couple other teams out West can play with and perhaps beat them in a best of seven series. The Warriors did it a few months ago, of course, but the Cavs weren't at anything approaching full strength. Time will tell what the Cavs future holds. All we know is that James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love will be a part of it.