This week the NBA regular season comes to an end, and we’ll be submerged in NBA playoff games nightly as soon as this coming weekend. So this week I decided to answer a bunch of questions from readers, it’s our annual NBA “email bag.”

Some call it a “mailbag” I guess, but who really uses the mail anymore except for Amazon orders?

Who’s taking the MVP? --Person that didn’t read last week, Bangor


The answers Durant, ‘nuff said; if you seek more, read here.

What are the Celtics smoking? –Adam, Orono

I’m not sure Adam, the past week has been a Shakespearean tragedy for Celtics fans. We went from 3rd worst record to 5th, that’s a huge deal, not only is the jump from 3rd to 5th represents the most significant change in lottery chances, but it makes a huge difference especially when the worst pick possible from a lottery position is 4 spots higher than your win/loss record rank. For a draft that expects 5 to 7 “game changing” prospects; yes a big deal.

I don’t know what happened either, in less than 48 hours the Celtics managed to crush my dreams and void all their masterful work. It was just last week that I was gloating about how brilliant the Celtics had become at losing while still appearing competitive; and then two wins on back-to-back nights all hope was destroyed (Friday Charlotte, Saturday Cleveland)…I think I cried myself to sleep on those nights, it’s depressing to think about any longer. So here’s something to help us all sulk in silence in what could have been

Who’s the best player in this years draft? –Brian, Portland

The list is still incomplete, we still have players that may or may not declare, the most recent being Arizona standout Aaron Gordon. Chad Ford of ESPN keeps a pretty up to date list, most notably standouts like Jabari Parker, Mitch McGary, and Glenn Robinson III all have yet to declare. So until we get a complete list its tough to say, plus the NBA draft is still a gamble, here’s some evidence.

Recent less than stellar 1st overall picks:

  • 1998 – Michael Olowokandi
  • 2000 – Kenyon Martin (not a bust, but not a franchise player either)
  • 2001 – Kwame Brown (not this Kwami … #NSFW, language)
  • 2005 – Andrew Bogut (again, no franchise here)
  • 2006 – Andrea Bargnani
  • 2007 – Greg Oden (The Chameleon! Okay, so injuries weren’t his fault, but still a bust)
  • 2013 – Anthony Bennet (this happened, #history)

Some more promising later 1st round picks:

  • Luol Deng, 7th pick
  • Anderson Varejao, 30th pick
  • Dwayne Wade, 5th
  • David West, 18th
  • Joakim Noah, 9th
  • Tiago Splitter, 28th
  • Kobe Bryant, 13th
  • Steve Nash, 15th

So basically there can be value with almost any pick. Instead of pretending like I know how to evaluate NBA talent, especially a crop as underdeveloped as this year, I would rather advocate patience and value.

How awesome are my San Antonio Spurs? - Ben, Ellsworth

Ben I’m glad you brought them up, I want to apologize for forgetting them in my NBA mid-season review. They deserve to be mentioned as a contender; but for me the Spurs are a much better regular season team than a playoffs team.

They are probably one of the most efficient squads in the NBA, but this is the playoffs and strategies change; rest and management become less of an issue and star players are able to take over and handle more minutes. I think the entire NBA changed the night LeBron James took down the 2007 Pistons.

One of the best conference finals I can recall, but no matter how efficient the entire Detroit team was, LeBron had an answer, from that point on I think most GMs took notice that the era of “the team” was over.

Now the Spurs have had their own dynasty run; one that I think goes under-appreciated; but against this years’ top stars I think they lose out, I can’t tell you which round, but someone will take them down. Age is also a factor, when you’re a Spurs fan you’re one injury away from Jenga!

I’m a 76ers fan – Emily, Philadelphia

Emily had written more in her email, but I thought I would stop at the fact that she’s a 76ers fan, which is a deep enough question already.

It will take years of deep contemplation to undue how many years this team has set the game of basketball back. What I think is inexcusable is how transparent they have been about their ambitions this season. The East is atrocious, the NBA really needs to address this lottery system that rewards losing. The problem with the draft, the lottery, and the workforce of the NBA, is that basketball inherently is a “player’s game”.

It’s not a game of opportunity like baseball, where you can give an unknown prospect innings and suddenly get a surprising result; everyone knows the best player on the court in the NBA. The problem, there aren't enough star players to go around, even with the salary cap. Parody never exists, and no one better than a 3rd seed really has a shot at going to the NBA Finals.

One suggestion I have would be to reverse the lottery, as well as include the 7 and 8 seeds in each conference from the playoffs. The most lottery chances would be rewarded to the best record not in the playoffs that year; motivating teams to win.

Sure, this really makes it tough on the team with the worst record, but a potential solution could be to give a free-agent exemption to those teams in the event of an unsuccessful lottery, with the competition model for lottery chances, there would be incentive for poor teams to try to continue to improve. I also love the idea of including low-seed playoff teams, to give them to make the jump from early elimination to contender the following season.

That’s all for this week, enjoy the playoffs, and remember to keep on sending in your requests; tell me what you want the Lo Down on!

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