With the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat slated to meet in the 2014 NBA Finals, 28 teams are forced to sit at home and watch. None of these squads will hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy this season, but that doesn't mean all 28 are doomed for the future.
For the sake of putting a number on "the future," consider the following analysis to be through the 2016-17 campaign. A three-year window is what we're giving these squads, which is the amount of time we expect to see yearly runs at a title.
Breaking teams into three different categories, you'll find: lottery teams worth watching, playoff teams worth watching and true contenders. Roster makeup and potential will be the biggest factors while categorizing, but draft positioning, salary cap and free-agent possibilities will also be taken into consideration.
The NBA would love to see parity increase over the next three years (and beyond), but most fans recognize that this is a star-driven league. Not everyone can be a contender, but a handful have bright futures immediately ahead.