ESPN NBA Future Power Rankings: Spurs stay at #9


June 4, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) prior to tip off against the Oklahoma City Thunder in game five of the Western Conference finals of the 2012 NBA playoffs at the AT

ESPN released their NBA Future Power Rankings today (Insiders only). Here’s what Chad Ford and John Hollinger said about the Spurs:

9. San Antonio Spurs | Future Power Rating:     683

Players (13th) | Management (1st) | Money     (16th) | Market (13th) | Draft (22nd)

“We’ve written for a while now that the Spurs’     best days are behind them. And every season     they show they still have a lot left in the tank.

San Antonio finished tied for the best record in the NBA last season, following a 2011-12 in which they had     the best record in the Western Conference. But alas, its winning ways in the regular season once again     couldn’t translate to a championship.

Although still productive, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are on the downsides of their careers. Tony Parker     is the only Spurs player in his prime. And while the team can still find good role players — rookie Kawhi     Leonard looked like the steal of the 2011 draft — the challenge for the Spurs, at least for next season, is     that they haven’t added anyone who can really lead the team long term.

At some point (we’re done predicting when), Duncan, Ginobili and Parker will slow down. It’s unlikely a     combo of Leonard, Tiago Splitter and Cory Joseph will replace them anytime soon.

We have faith in their management, which we’ve ranked No. 1 in all but one of the eight editions of FPR. But     whether they can work their magic again once Duncan, Ginobili and Parker can’t get it done anymore is a     fair question.”

(Previous rank: 9)

My take. While San Antonio is certain to lose two-thirds of their invaluable core that has been responsible for their rousing success — Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili — ESPN still gives the San Antonio organization the benefit of doubt when it pertains to their management. The Spurs’ organization has ranked first in management for nearly every Future Power Rankings and, coupled with their favorable cap situation and malleable roster components, have enough savvy to exploit the masses of incompetent general managers. Their current crop of players, which are the most valuable component to these rankings, are still above-average albeit a bit long in the tooth.

The only pitfall for San Antonio directly correlates, coincidentally, from their success — as they continue to win, their draft positioning falters. This isn’t a huge issue, though, considering this facet is only given 100 points rather than more important factors (players, management, money, etc). But it’s also something that is important and you can be rest assured that management will do their due diligence in replenishing their talent.

For reference, the Spurs are below these teams (in numerical order) — Miami, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah, Indiana, Dallas, Denver and Chicago. Whether you think Dallas’ market and cap flexibility, Denver’s youth and athleticism or Chicago’s market, despite an incoherent offseason that saw them forge cap room while taking apart of a valuable bench unit, are good enough to supersede San Antonio’s consistency is a matter of opinion. It’s certainly close and putting the Spurs in the top five wouldn’t be a bad decision either.

So what do you think Spurs fans? Where should the Spurs rank if we are projecting 2-4 seasons down the line?