Why do people love sports? There are plenty of answers to that question. There are the stories that make us fans see why sports are so important to players. Like a minor league baseball player working their whole career for one at bat in ‘The Show’. Or there are the athletes that nobody believed in because they were too short, like Isaiah Thomas. There are the stories in which players come back from injury or illness, like James Connor being drafted in the NFL, after fighting through cancer. Yet perhaps the reason we love sports most though, is pride of one’s city.
We all remember the New Orleans Saints playing for the first time back in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina tore through the community. Steve Gleason making the iconic punt block, that not only made the Saints believe they would in the game, but made the city of New Orleans believe brighter days were ahead. Cleveland too, is a prime example of sports’ importance. Not only was the city known for how bad they were at sports, but things in the city had been pretty bleak for years as well. LeBron, northeast Ohio’s own, delivering on his promise to bring a championship to his city, gave people hope. I walked seven miles to the Cavs’ championship parade downtown and have never seen Clevelander’s so happy. Sports matter so much for so many reasons, but city pride is at the top of that list.
A huge way of bonding for communities is their sports teams. They are a sense of pride for people all across the country. Fifteen cities are lucky enough to have teams in the Big three sports; NBA, NFL and MLB. The cities are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Oakland, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington D.C. These places all vary in success of their teams, and the community’s loyalty to each one. I am here to rank how much success each city will have in the next decade. We will go from least successful to most successful on a scale of 1-10 for each team (10 being the most successful). So each city can earn up to 30 points. For cities with multiple teams in a sport, I am going to choose whichever team is the most popular.
15. Los Angeles – Lakers (4), Rams (2), Dodgers (7) Total – 13
The Lakers at least admitted defeat and tanked. They do not have a star yet, but have five good, young pieces to go along with the number two pick in this year’s draft. They are overpaying some veterans and have a highly questionable front office as well. Success should come, but not for a little while. The Rams are not in a good spot. They put everything they had into Jared Goff last year, and he did not play that much, and when he did, it was not pretty. They do not have much young talent around him due to a lack of draft picks. The Dodgers are a good team right now and will continue to be a contender for the foreseeable future. Cody Bellinger has emerged to be a solid, young, projectable player to go along with studs Corey Seager and Julio Urias. The Dodgers have a smart front office, cap room, and will be fine moving forward.
14. Philadelphia – 76ers (4), Eagles (6), Phillies (4). Total – 14
Philly has some of the most demanding fans in the world. They have been very patient with the 76ers, though. They will need to continue to be as it is not their time just yet. The Sixers need a guard badly and will presumably draft one this year, but they could also use new doctors. If they can stay healthy, they are loaded with potential. The best case scenario is they draft a solid guard this year, another one next year and have enough money to sign a stud. They still need a lot of help, but they are going down the right path. The Eagles may have a franchise quarterback, but have a ton of holes. They need offensive line help, and have drafted well defensively, but have some veteran guys back there, and some expiring contracts. I am not sure where this team is headed in the future, although the revamped offensive talent could lead to an explosive team. Another team that has tanked and is still losing a lot, is the Phillies. They are still well under .500, but some pieces are starting to look good. Cesar Hernandez and Aaron Altherr look great, but Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco who were supposed to lead this revolution, have not played well this year. I am not a huge fan of their top prospect, J.P. Crawford, either. They also need a lot of pitching help.
T-9. Atlanta – Hawks (2), Falcons (9), Braves (4). Total 15
The Hawks do not really have a vision right now. There have a few pieces, but if you are not contending or have young projectable talent like the Bucks, you should be tanking. The Hawks will stay in mediocrity though, and will have very limited future success. The Falcons have a QB in Matt Ryan that has around six more good years left, so automatically they are in a great position. They have some explosive young pass rushers as well, and a great coach and owner. Sustained success is tough in football, but Atlanta has as bright a future as almost anyone. The Braves would receive a higher score from me if they stood pat this offseason. They made some incredible trades over the past few years to stockpile young talent. This offseason, they signed veterans because they wanted to compete this year as they opened a new park. That was a head scratcher in that not only did it take time away from youngsters, but it is going to make their draft pick worse this year. We have seen this with other teams where they think they can compete before they really do, like with the Astros, who sent five prospects to the Phillies for Ken Giles last year, and missed the playoffs.
T-9. Miami – Heat (5), Dolphins (6), Marlins (4). Total – 15
The Heat have one main thing going for them: Pat Riley. Riley can attract free agents better than anyone. As far as talent on the roster, I am not a big fan. Dion Waiters is improving, but has not shown me enough yet. Goran Dragic is aging and Hassan Whiteside rebound chases. The team needs a lot, but Riley can attract talent to help turn the tide. The Dolphins snuck into the playoffs, and are headed in the right direction, but I do not see them being a serious contender in the future. Ryan Tannehill is the definition of average, and their best defender Cameron Wake is aging fast. They have not drafted great in the past few years, but did find a nice tailback in Jay Ajayi. It all depends on how much better Tannehill can get because the talent around him is there. The Marlins are an interesting team. Giancarlo Stanton may not be worth the $325 million, but Christian Yelich is an absolute stud on both sides of the ball, and Marcell Ozuna is impressing as well. Dee Gordon is a nice asset, but nothing special. The Marlins really should just blow it up to replenish the farm system and build around those three outfielders and a stellar defensive shortstop in Adeiny Hechavarria.
T-9. Minneapolis – Timberwolves (6), Vikings (5), Twins (4). Total 15
The Timberwolves have a great core in Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Towns needs to improve defensively, but is very solid. Zach Lavine still needs to show me some consistency and strength. They have the perfect coach in Tom Thibodeau, but he needs a great point guard to achieve success. If they develop their talent well, avoid Derrick Rose and spend money wisely in free agency, this team could be a serious contender by 2019. The Vikings did the right thing in not signing Adrian Peterson. I believe in Teddy Bridgewater, but he is going to be out for at least a good amount of this year, and the offensive line is a question mark. The defense is stellar, led by the defensive backs, but the front seven in not very young. I do not see them being a serious contender unless Bridgewater takes a huge step forward. A few years ago, the Minnesota Twins’ future looked like their future was as bright as any in MLB. Their pitching looks bleak, other than veteran Ervin Santana, who is pitching like Johan Santana, and youngster Jose Berrios. Miguel Sano is looking like a stud, and I still believe in Byron Buxton. Max Kepler has a beautiful swing that screams 30 home run power. They still need a lot of help, but the core is absolutely there.
T-9. New York – Knicks (2), Giants (7), Yankees (6). Total – 15
No team in this list is perhaps as much a mess as the Knicks. Porzingis is great, but my god does he need help. Carmelo is so bad, yes bad, not just overpaid. He will bog them down for a few years. A team with their best player as a stretch four is going to need a lot of help. The Knicks will not be good for a while, especially if Phil Jackson is involved. I like what the Giants have done. They have invested a ton to help Eli Manning. They had a much-improved defense last year, and it is not like their defense is ridiculously old. They have a few more good years. I expect this team to be near the top of the NFC for a few more years, and with great ownership, they are not a team that would remain out of contention for long. The Yankees have really surprised me. I do not think they will be a World Series contender this year while they are still paying and relying on veterans like Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. Aaron Judge is someone who I was not high on, but has really shown me something. An outfield with him and Clint Frazier could be special. I am not as high on their farm system as others, but with the overall talent they have combined with their financial resources, the Yankees could be the Yankees we are used to.
T-9. Phoenix – Suns (4), Cardinals (5), Diamondbacks (6). Total – 15
I love the Suns roster. Devin Booker is as promising a scorer under 24 as we have in the NBA. Marquese Chriss is unbelievably athletic, and is improving. Eric Bledsoe is great as well, and could bring back a huge return for the Suns if they were to deal him. This team, along with the Nuggets and Timberwolves may be atop the West in five or so years. The Cardinals had a surprisingly rough season last year. Carson Palmer looks to be a shell of his former self, and the defense has a lot of question marks. The organization as a whole is great at drafting and developing talent, though. While they may only be mediocre this year, Bruce Arians is a quarterback whisperer, so I foresee them getting a passer to succeed around the talented roster they already have, although the impending loss of Larry Fitzgerald is worrisome. I was stunned by the success of the Diamondbacks this year, but looking at their roster, it becomes very evident that they have a ton of nice pieces. Jake Lamb and Chris Owings have really shown out thus far, along with the already-established Paul Goldschmidt. Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker are young and performing very well while Zack Greinke has been a lot better this year. The team has a nice mix of youngsters and veterans and should continue their success for years to come.
T-7. Chicago – Bulls (3), Bears (3), Cubs (10). Total – 16
The Bulls should blow it up. Even if they don’t, they aren’t going to compete in the next five years. They have about as bleak a future as is possible when you have a star like Jimmy Butler. Also, the management is overly controlling and there is no consistency at head coach. “Da Bear”s are somewhat in shambles. They have a decent amount of talent on the defensive end, but have no idea what they are doing at quarterback. A bad and old offensive line does not help their cause. The Cubs have reached the pinnacle of the baseball world and there is no reason to think they will be going away anytime soon. They have the best front office-manager combination in baseball, and a huge payroll. They have some solid veterans, but their core is mainly under 28. Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell, Kyle Hendricks and Ian Happ are all above average and young. No future is as bright is the one on the north side of Chicago.
T-7. Dallas – Mavericks (2), Cowboys (8), Rangers (6) Total – 16
Mark Cuban finally admitted that the Mavericks are trying to lose, which is smart. With a lot of their current roster though, it will be tough to be one of the few worst teams in the league. They won’t even start their full rebuild for a few more years, so success will be a long way away for the Mavs. How ‘bout them Cowboys? They turned things around last year behind their star rookies. Dak Prescott was great, but it still a small question mark. The defense is much improved but there are some holes, especially in the front seven. Also, Jason Garrett is a figurehead which harms the team in crunch time. However, there’s too much talent on this offense for them not to contend in the years coming. The Rangers are loaded with talent, but have been so riddled with injuries. They are also paying a lot of veterans who are past their prime a lot of money. Some of their young talent are vastly overrated and have holes in their games too, as Rougned Odor swings at everything, and Joey Gallo swings and misses way too much. The Rangers may have missed their chance at a World Series with playoff collapses in the past few years.
6. Denver – Nuggets (5), Broncos (6), Rockies (5) Total – 17
The Nuggets are super deep with young talent and draft picks. Nikola Jokic is the best player you have not heard of. Jamal Murray is Devin Booker-like. Denver has a ton of other explosive youngsters, but does not have a dominant wing or guard yet, so they are still a little while away. The light at the end of the tunnel is visible, though. The Broncos are arguably the best in the NFL at two parts of an organization: Defense and front office. The defense is still very solid, anchored by Von Miller and a ton of great defensive backs. They draft and develop as well as anyone too. But quarterback, the most important position in sports, is still a major question mark. And for that reason, they can’t be rated higher than a six. The Rockies are off to an unbelievable start this year, but I still do not see the vision. They have a lot of great players, but they have not gone for it or blown things up at all in the last five years or so. They are still a few pieces away from really competing, but are well on their way as long as they do not give up the farm.
5. Washington D.C. – Wizards (6), Redskins (5), Nationals (7). Total – 18
D.C. sports fan claim to have the worst teams to root for, but brighter days may be ahead. The Wizards’ best three players; John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter all took a giant leap ahead this year. They will have to pay all of them a lot of money though, and it will be tough to get a fourth good player, which they will need to really compete. They may be good for the next few years, but not great. The Washington football team smartly kept Kirk Cousins, as quarterbacks of his caliber do not grow on trees. They lost a ton of talent around him though, and this next year may not be their best. Jay Gruden has impressed me in his time in Washington, though. Having Cousins alone earns them a five, but they do not have much else. The Nationals are playing outstanding currently, but they need to take the next step this year. Who knows how much longer some of the veterans they are relying on, like Ryan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Jayson Werth will continue to produce? I would bet on their best player, Bryce Harper leaving them in the next few years. Stephen Strasburg is injury prone. The team is crazy talented now, but the future is pretty blurry.
T-3. Cleveland – Cavaliers (9), Browns (3), Indians (8). Total – 21
The Cavs have the best player in the world, as well as some solid talent around him. LeBron will be at the top of the league for three more years, and will still be effective for probably 6-7 more seasons. Kyrie looks poised to take the team over at 25 years of age. Kevin Love is only getting better at playing with LeBron, and with an underrated GM in David Griffin who has made solid under-the-radar moves, the Cavaliers are in a good spot. Oh yeah, Cleveland also has a football team. They aren’t good though. I should give them a one just because how miserable they have been for 20 years, but they have earned a three because they have done everything right in the past year to accumulate a nice group of young talent. Hue Jackson is loved, and the front office looks like the best the Browns have had in decades (which is not saying a lot). The Indians have just as much young talent as the Cubs, but the only thing against them is their payroll. They have lost a lot of great players over the years because they could not pay them, although they have locked up a lot of their stars long-term already.
T-3. Houston – Rockets (7), Texans (7), Astros (7). Total – 21
The Rockets have one of the best players in basketball in James Harden, so they are already in better position that a ton of teams. However, they do not have much else other than some overpaid veterans. Also, while Mike D’Antoni’s system worked this year, I do not see it being one that is conducive to winning a title. The Texans, similar to the Broncos, have a loaded roster with some uncertainty at quarterback. They perhaps have more certainty than the Broncos, and if nothing else, have more upside in Deshaun Watson. They do not have many draft picks in the future, but are in a weak division so should be at or around the top of the AFC South for years to come. It is actually all three teams in Houston that are in a good spot. The Astros have one of the best, and youngest, infields in baseball with Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve up the middle, and Alex Bregman at the corner. Their pitching and bullpen is improving, but similar to their outfield, it is not up to par with some of the other dominant teams in baseball. They are also relying heavily on some veterans like Carlos Beltran and Brian Mccann, more than the Indians and Cubs.
2. Oakland – Warriors (10), Raiders (8), Athletics (4). Total – 22
I have one team in each sport labeled as a ’10,’ and the Warriors are my pick for the NBA. Not only do they look like the class of the NBA currently, but there is no reason to think won’t be a real dynasty. With, what is in my opinion the best front office in basketball, the Warriors are in a great spot. Kevin Durant is the third best player in the NBA. Steph Curry is the best point guard in the league. Klay Thompson in the best SG in basketball. Draymond Green is the best Center in the land (He plays center in their death lineup). With all of that talent, plus the ability to make the most of role players like Javale McGee and Shaun Livingston, Golden State must be feeling good. The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas, but in the meantime, are in Oakland. They too, are in a very good spot. They have a young, talented and mature quarterback who has expressed interest in staying with the franchise in Derek Carr. They do not have as much talent around him as they should, but with Khalil Mack anchoring that defense, they will be fine. The Athletics are not in a good position currently. Khris Davis is hitting a lot of home runs, but does not play very good defense. Sonny Gray, their star pitcher, is a shell of his former self. Yonder Alonso looks like a real asset though, as does Liam Hendriks out of the bullpen. The team has some talent in the farm system as well, and I do believe in Billy Beane. The team does not really have a path right now, but Beane and co. have time to figure it out.
1. Boston – Celtics (7), Patriots (10), Red Sox (8). Total – 25
Boston is affectionately known as ‘Title Town’, as they have had some unbelievable success in the past 15 years. It looks like a lot of those winning ways will carry on past 2017. The Celtics were the number one seed in the playoffs along with having the top pick in this year’s draft, and the Brooklyn Nets’ pick next year, which will be high. The C’s though, do not truly have a star, as Isaiah Thomas can’t be the best player on a championship level team. Because of how many assets they have, and their great coach and front office, the future looks bright for Beantown basketball. The Patriots have dominated the NFL for years, and will continue to do so. Tom Brady can play at an elite (no Joe Flacco is not elite) level for at least five more years. With Brady and Belichick, the Pats can fill in the rest with a group of high schoolers and win 12 games. The Red Sox lost Big Papi, but are loaded with young talent in Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr and Andrew Benintendi. The only thing against them, other than some veterans that are past their prime, is their front office and coaching, but they have enough money to make up for their bad decisions.