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ESPN: Trail Blazers Future is Pretty Bright

ESPN forecasts power rankings over the next three seasons and the Blazers crack the top third.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers have a rosy time ahead in the immediate future. That’s the conclusion from ESPN’s NBA future power rankings, a forecast of the next three seasons for all NBA franchises. Analysts Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks put the Golden State Warriors in the first overall position, naturally, but the Trail Blazers tie with the Utah Jazz for 10th on their list.

Pelton says of the Blazers:

After the Blazers won a playoff series and hung tough with the Warriors in 2016, their dip to 41-41 last season felt disappointing. However, there's still reason for long-term optimism in the Rose City.

Weighted by minutes played, Portland's playoff rotation was the youngest among the 16 teams who qualified, and while star guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum appear at or near their peak, the midseason addition of center Jusuf Nurkic gives the Blazers' starting lineup more upside.

Portland will have to rely primarily on internal development because, even after shedding the salary of Allen Crabbe this summer, the Blazers are still in the luxury tax. A lucrative new contract for Nurkic -- a restricted free agent next summer if he doesn't sign an extension before the regular season -- could keep them in tax jeopardy for years to come.

Other notable rankings have the Boston Celtics second, the Cleveland Cavaliers seventh, the Milwaukee Bucks 16th, the Los Angeles Lakers 17th, and the Chicago Bulls dead last.