As of this writing, the fine NBA editors at ESPN.com have only posted the teams whose futures Ford and Hollinger have ranked 11-30 so I'm reluctant to say much about a subjective ranking without seeing the rankings but I think it's (roughly) a fair ranking because...
- Ownership is, for the foreseeable future, a detriment to building a championship team in Atlanta.
- I think Joe Johnson has one more really good year left in him. From that point on the Hawks will owe $107 million to their (at best) third-best player.
- Profligate spending on re-signing not just Johnson but also Bibby and Marvin Williams (unless he's given and thrives in a larger role) has limited their future options to a) re-signing Horford and b) dumping salary.
- The organization has never worked to acquire assets they could afford to give up in trades to improve the team. Without cap flexibility or a good reason/the ability to pay the luxury tax, the Hawks would have to trade Josh Smith or Al Horford to acquire an impact player in a trade and this hypothetical player's impact would be seriously blunted by the loss of Horford or Smith.
- Even in Joe Johnson's expensive decline years, Horford and Smith (and, one hopes, Jeff Teague and Crawford the Younger) are likely good enough (and the bottom half of the Eastern Conference bad enough) to keep the Hawks in the playoffs and out of the lottery, thus making building through the draft* difficult.
As for the particular complaint of Rufus1 regarding the ranking of the Oklahoma City Thunder relative to the Hawks...
- Unlike the Hawks, Oklahoma City drafted a franchise player.
- Said franchise player is younger than every member of the 2009-10 Hawks roster and is just 24 days older than Jordan Crawford.
- The Zombie Sonics franchise has ably (as partially evidenced by their winning 50 games in the third rather than fifth year of a rebuilding program) and purposefully (as partially evidenced by their firing of a coach failing to develop young players early in the second season of his tenure rather than signing him to a second, shorter contract that all but gave him an incentive not to develop young players) built around said franchise player.
- In their first appearance in the playoffs they were out-scored by the soon-to-be NBA champions by 10 points over 6 games rather than 84 points over 7 games.
- The Thunder have both cap flexibility going forward and more useful young players than they can accommodate.
- They buy, rather than sell, picks at the top of the second round.
- Sam Presti runs this game. Rick Sund doesn't. Nor will the next Atlanta Hawks GM.