NBA Future Rankings: Warriors stumble into top five

Stephen Dunn

After a year in which they landed in the lottery, the improvement of the combination in management, players, market and money has now pushed the Golden State Warriors into the upper echelon, joining teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls.

About once a year, ESPN's future power rankings show up on the front page and being the unabashed Golden State Warriors fan yours truly is, I click on the link hoping to everything that if I'm lucky, I only need to scroll past the first two pages. Last year, we went through three pages before finding the Warriors perched in the 19th spot, and that was perhaps optimistic.

A season later, with the move to San Francisco looming, Harrison Barnes now a part of a young promising core, Bob Myers cementing himself as an executive that identifies values and talents, and Joe Lacob's willingness to dip into the luxury tax, the Warriors are ranked right behind the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs.

Tempered optimism and perpetual pessimisms are intrinsic traits of Warriors' fans and perhaps that's why, in my honest opinion, this spot is probably a little too high but let's move to the quotes:

The Warriors were the highest risers of any team in the FPR, moving up 14 spots from 19th to fifth. That's what happens when you play the most exciting brand of basketball in the NBA and make the second round one year after finishing 20 games under .500.

Golden State saw increases across the board. Its roster went from 16th to fifth thanks to a breakout season by Stephen Curry, another solid year of development for Klay Thompson and the strong play of rookies Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli. Together, the Warriors now have arguably the best young core in the league.

The management score also received a huge bump, from 19th to eighth, as a result of the deft drafting and trading GM Bob Myers has done the past two years. With a strong ownership group behind him and a great adviser in Jerry West, suddenly the Warriors look like a model of how to run a modern franchise. We expect their scores to keep growing in this area.

Other than the Rockets, who have the means for a huge free agency period this summer, the Warriors are the up-and-coming team in the West.

For those stuck behind the pay wall, the Dubs are ranked 5th in players, 8th in management, 11th in money, 7th in market and 24th in the draft.

It's feasible that the young core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes evolve into a poor man's version of the OKC trio of a year ago. Bob Myers and the recently featured Pete Myers' stastical group has shown an ability to find value in second-round picks and free agents, picking up Draymond Green and Jarrett Jack. Let's not forget Brandon Rush, either. We can probably nitpick numbers here and there but one can't argue against the potential of the immediate future.

Perhaps the Warriors will sink back into the teens next year but a lot of things would have to go wrong. Regardless of whether they should be ranked fifth or eighth, the bigger picture paints the Warriors as a contender for the foreseeable future.

The rest of the league/media is now privy to this and it's another step to a turnaround that came quicker than anyone expected.

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