Looking at the rosters around the league right now, three teams stand out as built for long term domination. Chicago, Miami, and Oklahoma City.
This isn't to say they'll be the only teams to win a title in the next five seasons, though that certainly wouldn't surprise me if it happened.
Nor is it to say things can't change quickly in the NBA, as we all know they can, but other high quality teams are either aging quickly or several moves away from having the same type of core as these three.
For Bulls fans, it's nice to be included on that list.
I would rank them in terms of quality as:
Over the next five full seasons, I expect OKC to have an advantage in terms of getting to the finals as the Western conference is on a downward trend. Long time elite teams in the Lakers, Mavs, and Spurs will all fall aside over that stretch with the Mavs/Spurs possibly doing so this season.
Memphis is sort of up and coming, but they don't really have star talent that worries you, and the depth teams rarely hang around too long. While the Clippers also might become something special behind Blake Griffin, but they've been so poorly run for so long that you figure they'll find some way to screw it up.
Chicago and Miami will have to contend with each other and New York also has a young core built around two premier players that could do something pretty special with the right role players added to the mix. Orlando might remain potentially dominant as well if they can figure out how to keep Dwight Howard which might become trivially easy if a franchise tag finds its way into the next CBA.
That's why much of this blog is dedicated towards beating Miami. They're the one team that the Bulls know they'll need to go through to win a title. Maybe the Thunder will be there too, but maybe it's the Lakers or Grizzlies or Mavs this season and someone else the next.
Vegas would have a hard time predicting who will come out of the West next season, but I would say the odds are less than 20% that Chicago can make it to the finals without having to go through Miami first.
Back on point, which of the big three has the brightest future:
Chicago is centered around Derrick Rose and a ton of depth. They have quality players at every position, but they lack a secondary shot creator. Hopefully that can be addressed after the starts and we see what the new CBA looks like.
The best case scenario for Chicago is a soft cap, but the elimination of the MLE. Such a move would severely hamstring Miami's ability to improve while at the same time allowing Chicago to improve using its considerable store of trade assets.
The Bulls window with this present group is probably five years long. Korver and Boozer are the only players who will decline over that stretch, but Korver didn't have that large an impact on the team and can likely be replaced while the Bulls have enough front court depth to ease Boozer into a smaller role as he ages.
Chicago's odds at winning a title will depend largely on how much help they can bring in on offense for Derrick Rose and how well Rose can work with a secondary offensive creator.
There's been no shortage of talk about the big three. They should win the title every season, and quite frankly, every year they don't (including this one) is a failure to meet reasonable expectations as well as a choke job.
I have a fear that if Miami does win the title and LeBron gets over the mental block that causes him to choke in big moments, that it's over for the rest of the league for awhile.
However, Miami is not without problems. Dwyane Wade will start to slow down as time goes on. He'll be 30 this year, and while he's in no danger of becoming a crappy player anytime soon, his stature as a top five player will likely fall off over the next three seasons.
Furthermore, the depth Miami has is generally old and on the decline. Certainly the Heat can't really get less out of Haslem and Miller than they did this season, but it might be foolhardy to expect for much from them either. They'll both be 31 this season along with James Jones if he returns. Mike Bibby will be 33.
When a superstar loses a step he becomes a star, when a star loses a step he becomes a role player. When a role player loses a step they become what?
That said, Miami's stars can only be beaten by themselves. Basketball is a star driven game, and Miami has the talent to win every year if they put it together. Unfortunately for them, LeBron has never shown the mental toughness to do so. As noted before, if he ever finds it the league is in trouble for about five years.
We spend less time thinking about them because there's no guarantee we'll ever need to go through them.
However, OKC has a tremendous core. Kevin Durant is a legit superstar, Russell Westbrook is a legit secondary star, and the rest of the pieces complement each other well. Bulls fans would likely kill for James Harden as their SG.
Perkins and Sefolosha are great defensive role players on a team that needs little offense while Ibaka is a potential two way PF for them in the future.
The Thunder are extremely young at every position and could actually play their core group for up to eight years if they were successful. Most of these guys were 22 or younger last season. They're going to be around for a long time and don't really have any needs outside of internal improvement.
The only thing stopping OKC from dominating is the potential that finances will force them to break the team and the existence of the dominant teams listed above. However, it wouldn't surprise me to see OKC win several titles over the next decade if they can keep their group together.
You've got other teams out there that could develop. Other teams that have one or two last chances as well. However, right now, Chicago, Miami, and OKC are the best out there and should be so for awhile.