ESPN basketball writers Chad Ford and John Hollinger offer their take on which NBA franchises have the brightest future. Oklahoma City is #1, Miami #2, Chicago #3, L.A. Clippers #4 and at #5:
5. Indiana Pacers | Future Power Rating: 748
PLAYERS MANAGEMENT MONEY MARKET DRAFT 399 (7th) 130 (10th) 141 (7th) 41 (18th) 37 (20th)
We continue to get more excited about the roster Larry Bird and David Morway have put together. While there are no superstars, the team is incredibly deep and plays well together. Danny Granger is in his prime, David West brings leadership, Roy Hibbert is playing like an All-Star, Darren Collison continues to improve, Tyler Hansbrough brings manic energy, George Hill (when healthy) has given the team a scorer off the bench, and Paul George may very well be the best player on this team in another year, if not one of the best players in the league -- he has that much potential.
The team continues to be prudent with its money, too, and still has significant cap room to add other pieces. Adding one more scorer could put the Pacers in serious contention for the Eastern Conference crown.
But it's the Pacers' jump in management score that moved them up to No. 5. Owner Herb Simon remains committed to putting a winning team on the floor, which means the front office has the green light to spend if it's on the right guy. And while no one had heard of Frank Vogel before last season, he's quickly looking like one of the best up-and-coming coaches in the NBA. He doesn't get enough credit for his contribution to the unselfish culture on the Pacers.
Bird, however, deserves the lion's share of the credit. Is this the year the three-time NBA MVP and former coach of the year completes the triple crown and takes home executive of the year honors? It's hard to think of anyone else who deserves it more.(Previous rank: 7)