Fool's errand: Projecting the draft in January

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Spor

I can't stop looking at the standings. Someone help me.

Tell me if this sounds familiar.  There are two time wasting activities that I go to when I'm bored.  One is to click through the Trade Machine looking for a trade that gets rid of Gerald Wallace without giving up multiple draft picks or taking back JR Smith.  The other thing I do is stare at the standings and try to project what the draft order will look like.

How far will Atlanta fall without Horford?  Can Toronto hold onto the Atlantic lead?  Will New York and Brooklyn turn things around enough to sneak into the playoffs?  How much better did Cleveland just get?

Let me tell you something.  This is foolishness.  We can guess at all of the above questions but we don't really know any of the answers until the season plays its course.  Even if you could accurately project each team's records, there's the whole issue of the Draft Lottery to be determined as well.  The worst record in the league could be picking 4th and the team that misses the playoffs by one game technically has a chance to win the first pick.

So will the Celtics land a star in the upcoming draft by losing a game on the West coast in January?  Umm, maybe, but you won't know that till after the fact so why bother worrying about it now?

The narrative has changed twice already.  Heading into the season we were near the top of the "Tank Rankings."  Then we won a few games and Brad Stevens was a wunderkind and we were going to run away with the Atlantic Division (despite being sub .500 at the time).  Now we're losing to superior teams (also some not-so-superior teams) and we're back to "tanking" apparently.

As I've said in the past, I think the truth is somewhere in between for us.  Players and coaches don't try to lose on purpose and I don't think the majority of fans want that either.  What does happen is that GMs will put their team at a distinct short term disadvantage in terms of talent in favor of future potential.  That's exactly what Ainge accomplished with the Courtney Lee trade.  The only question is "will he keep going?"  Will Ainge make more moves specifically intended to lose more games this year?  That seems to be the opinion of some.

Chat: Chat with Chad Ford - SportsNation - ESPN

Celtics seem to be pushing hard for that top 5 spot, who do you think Ainge is high on in this draft?

Chad Ford  (1:19 PM) He keeps telling me it's overrated, which in my experience, means he loves it. I've always believed the plan in Boston was to try to snag one of those top five picks. We will know for sure in a few weeks when we get closer to the trade deadline. The Celtics have assets they could move to almost guarantee a Top 5 pick (well, guarantee is a strong word given the situation in Toronto). Will they make the moves?

Chad Ford isn't the only one to suggest such a tactic.  The respected Zach Lowe suggested the same thing in the preseason as well.

The Celtics wouldn't mind their young guys getting to experience meaningful late-season games, but the guess here is that the front office would rather have at least one very nice first-round pick in a loaded draft. In other words, look for everyone to be on the table.

Of course that opens up the Pandora's box of "will Rajon Rondo be traded?" questions.  I suppose at some point I'll have to write that article (again) but here's my short take ...NO.

There are several less drastic options (Bass and Green come to mind) but the key is finding someone that will give you equal or comparable compensation for them (not just cap space and/or a "step back in the standings" - which isn't a guarantee - just ask Toronto post-Rudy-Gay).  I'd even entertain the option of trading Avery Bradley in part so we wouldn't be faced with having to re-sign him - but again, only if we could get good value for him.

All that said, I wouldn't' necessarily expect any kind of deal before the trade deadline (and maybe not even then).  By the Ainge will have another month plus to see where we sit in the standings and we might even have a few weeks to see Rajon Rondo interacting with everyone on the court.  If a guy works well with Rondo on the court, it is probably going to be better to keep him around rather than sending him off for a marginal percentage chance of getting a better pick.

Which brings me back to one of my larger points.  The draft itself is a gamble.  There are some great prospects at the top of the draft this year, but I'm getting the sense from "experts" that none of them is a sure-fire, can't-miss guy like Durant or LeBron.  Obviously if you find yourself in the top 5, you are probably going to walk away with a future All Star. Probably.  You might even be able to get a great prospect in the top 8 or 9 in this deep draft.  Maybe.

Still, the frustrating thing is that we just don't know.  I mean, there's inherent uncertainties and randomness in every facet of sports - which is kind of what makes it so fun to follow.  Still, there's a nervousness that comes with following a team in a rebuilding phase.  You can't just hope that player X comes back from an injury or player Y works on his jumpshot or the coach figures out how to use everyone properly.  Those facets are there, but there are so many additional outside forces that "we" have no control over.

The Nets were terrible before and now have won 4 straight.  Who really knows why?  The Bulls and Hawks went from being top 3 or 4 (in the East) to potential lottery teams because of injuries that nobody could have predicted.

Something else is going to happen that nobody could have expected.  A lot of somethings will.  The trade deadline will happen.  More injuries will happen.  Players will return from injury.  Teams will go on runs and teams will go on slides.  So it is foolish to keep checking the standings every day.

But here I go again.  I can't help it.

We're currently in 9th place in the East and have the 8th worst record.  We only have 3 wins more than Orlando who has the 2nd worst record in the league.

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