No surprise, then, that the Hawks moved up in Chad Ford and John Hollinger’s latest future power rankings at ESPN.com (Insider). The rankings are Ford and Hollinger’s attempt to project the on-court success for the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
The Hawks improved from No. 19 to No. 15 largely on the strength of their dramatically improved salary-cap situation. That development moved Atlanta’s “money” ranking (worth as much as 200 points) from No. 26th to No.1 Ford and Hollinger noted this “25-place jump was the largest of any team in any category.”
That was offset by Atlanta’s league-high drop in the “players” ranking (600 points), down to 23rd from 12th. Ford and Hollinger dock the Hawks not just for the talent disparity in the Joe Johnson deal but also because Josh Smith is in the last year of his contract. The authors opine that “[Al] Horford is the only key player who is both signed [long term] and guaranteed to make an impact.”
The Hawks rank No. 13 in the “management” category (200 points), up from No. 17 in the previous rankings. Ford and Hollinger give Danny Ferry high marks for both his tenure as Cleveland GM and his initial moves with the Hawks.
Atlanta ranks No. 14 in the “market” category (100 points), up one spot. The considerations: “Appeal to future acquisitions based on team quality, franchise reputation, city’s desirability as a destination, market size, taxes, business and entertainment opportunities, arena quality, fans.”
Finally, Ford and Hollinger place the Hawks No. 13 in the “draft” rankings (100 points), up from No. 19. That’s based on future draft picks and draft positioning.
The teams ranked ahead of the Hawks in the overall rankings, in order: Heat, Thunder, Lakers, Jazz, Pacers, Mavericks, Nuggets, Bulls, Spurs, Celtics, Hornets, Cavaliers, Rockets, Nets.
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Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat
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