Celtics Third In ESPN’s NBA Future Power Rankings, Ahead Of Spurs, Thunder

The Boston Celtics’ past two seasons have ended well short of an NBA championship. But it appears good fortunes are on the close horizon.

ESPN.com’s Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton released their annual NBA Future Power Rankings on Wednesday and the Celtics came in at No. 3, behind only the defending champion Golden State Warriors and their 2016 NBA Finals opponent, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The rankings were compiled by rating each NBA team in five categories — players, management, money, market and draft — and adding up a composite score based on those numbers. Here’s where the Celtics landed:

Players: 15th
Management: 3rd
Money: 4th
Market: 16th
Draft: 1st

These rankings bode very well for the C’s, who shot up from last year’s No. 10 ranking and are ahead of both the San Antonio Spurs (No. 4) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (No. 5) on this year’s list.

Boston boasts a strong, stable leadership corps stabilized by Wednesday’s contract extensions for Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens. The team owns the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft and likely will have high lottery selections in 2017 and 2018 thanks to their 2013 fleecing of the Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics also have several players locked up on team-friendly contracts, giving them the flexibility to pursue big-name free agents this summer.

Boston doesn’t boast the talent like the Warriors or the market like the Miami Heat, who each won those respective categories. But the C’s are positioned to make some serious noise in the years to come, and as Ford points out, it’s up to Ainge and Co. to seize that opportunity.

“Of course, the Celtics will have to make the most of all of those assets to earn this high a ranking,” Ford writes. “Looking at Ainge’s track record in the past, it feels like a good bet. Ainge might be the best deal-maker in the league, with the possible exception of San Antonio’s R.C. Buford.

“In short, no team is better positioned to be a challenger to the Cavs in the East for the next three seasons.”

Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images

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