Are the Celtics a lottery team right now?

USA TODAY Sports

How low can they go?

So we've already established that the players and coaches will not "tank" the season (meaning lose games on purpose). It remains to be seen if Ainge will "tank" the season by trading Rondo or even by offloading useful (and not yet old) players for future considerations and cap space.

Basically my current stance is that we just don't know what kind of team we'll have till the summer moves are done. So this is a completely unfair topic to have at this point. With all that said, I can't help but ask the question: Is this team a lottery team? It is important because how you feel about this team might impact what the next moves should be.

The critics of the Celtics current status claim that the team hasn't yet done enough to truly tank and they need to offload Rajon Rondo to get down into the deep lottery. I don't agree with that since I don't think we need to give up our one bonified star for a slightly higher percentage point chance at picking up someone who will be lucky to ever achieve what Rondo has already done.

I do, however, agree that there's little value in making the playoffs next year. So how bad are we right now? I don't think this team is bottom 3 bad and I don't really think they are currently a playoff team either.

My rationale has less to do with the Celtics then it does with what the other teams have done around us. A lot of teams that many pundits assumed would be part of Tankpalooza have made moves to upgrade their rosters.

I happen to think that the Cavs could make the playoffs behind Irving and a little luck in regards to injuries (Bynum, Varejao, etc.). The Wizards looked solid at the end of last year and are motivated to make the playoffs this year. The Bobcats/Hornets spent money on Al Jefferson (which doesn't guarantee anything but at least they are trying). At one point Chad Ford had the Hawks pegged for tanking, but I think they can make the playoffs behind Millsap and Horford. The Raptors with Gay and a new (smart) GM might be ready to take a step up. The TWolves might actually have some healthy stars this year. Detroit has Josh Smith, so they may take over the Hawks permanent 6th seed status.

Maybe I'm just buying the spin that these teams are selling (the Wizards manage to trick me every year it seems) but I don't see as many teams deep diving for Tankpalooza as I had originally thought. (Head nod 76ers, I see you)

I'm no NBA scout and I'm still trying to keep up with the moves from the last few weeks, but I think you can swag it into 3 broad strokes categories (in no particular order). Feel free to debate these as you like.

Top 10 (contenders or wannabe contenders)

Heat, Thunder, Spurs, Rockets, Clippers, Griz, Knicks, Nets, Pacers, Bulls

Middle 10 ("no man's land" or perhaps "the road to making the next step")

Hawks, Warriors, Nuggets, Mavs, Blazers, T-Wolves, Cavs, Wizards, Pistons, Lakers?

Bottom 10 (scoreboard watching for all the wrong reasons)

Sixers, Celtics, Cats, Magic, Pelicans, Kings, Suns, Bucks, Jazz, Raptors

I'm pretty confident in the top 10 but there are several teams that could land in either of the next two categories. And that's the tough part. Next year's draft is "top heavy" (according to the experts) but I get feeling that it would be a lot better to be in the top 10 then anywhere after that.

So what do you think? Are the Celtics currently a bottom 10 team? Lottery (bottom 14)? Or are they good enough to make the playoffs?

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