ESPN: Blazers Rise To No. 11 In "Future Power Rankings"

Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE

The Portland Trail Blazers rank No. 11 in ESPN.com's latest "Future Power Rankings."

The Portland Trail Blazers rose to No. 11 in ESPN.com's latest "Future Power Rankings" after placing No. 23 back in August 2012 and No. 14 back in May.

The "Future Power Rankings" -- compiled by Amin ElhassanChad Ford, Tom Haberstroh and Kevin Pelton --assess the potential of current players, the quality and stability of management, the team's salary cap situation, the appeal of the team's market and the team's upcoming draft picks.

Here's KP2's explanation for Portland's placement.

After another summer of incremental progress, the Blazers have almost edged their way back into the Future Power Rankings top 10 for the first time since August 2010.

Portland already had its core in place, with All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge surrounded by promising rookie of the year Damian Lillard and forward Nicolas Batum as well as steady Wesley Matthews. To that foundation, the Blazers have now added the depth that was sorely missing last season. After signing Mo Williams and Dorell Wright, trading for Robin Lopez and Thomas Robinson and drafting C.J. McCollum, Portland goes two-deep at every position and is ready to compete for a playoff spot.

By this time next year, we should have a better idea of the Blazers' long-term direction. That hinges on Aldridge, whose contract is up in the summer of 2015. If Aldridge signals a desire to play elsewhere, Portland is likely to trade him for a package of young prospects and draft picks.

At the same time, Portland retains plenty of flexibility to be a player in free agency in 2015, when it could have max-level cap space to build around Batum, Lillard and the return for Aldridge. That potential explains why the Blazers actually improved to eighth in the Money category despite their shopping spree this summer.

This year's top-five: Miami Heat, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors. This year's bottom-five: New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings, and Charlotte Bobcats.

The Blazers were ranked No. 13 in February 2012, No. 10 in March 2011, No. 5 in March 2010 and No. 1 in November 2009.

PS Thanks to GetOver in the FanShots.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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