Let's quickly reenact a simple, casual NBA fan conversation on the current hierarchy of the NBA:

Are the Cavs going to repeat in the NBA Finals against the Warriors?
I think they can do it. 
Well, what about the Pacers? Everyone is saying that they're going to make noise this year. 
Eh, maybe? 
Alright, alright. What about Toronto? Are they really going to be 3rd behind the Celtics? 
Maybe. Depends on how the season plays out. 
What about the Nets? After big moves this offseason can they make the playoffs?
Nets? I thought we were talking about NBA teams...

With the unpredictable nature of the regular season and the intangibles that go along with it, it's hard to say who's going to make it where, who's going to be better than who, etc. Injuries can turn a Finals favorite into a middle of the pack team. A player's accession to All-Stardom can push that same team back into contention.

But as things stand, there are very clear distinctions between squads that can be used to slot them into certain positions. ESPN writer Zach Lowe created the "Tiers of the NBA" list to try to make it a little clearer who the contenders and pretenders are. Oh, and whatever the Brooklyn Nets are (sorry).

There aren't any solid metrics to go by and the order within each tier doesn't necessarily matter. Falling into the "Best of the Rest" tier with the Spurs and Raptors are the Boston Celtics. Lowe said of the C's:

But Boston should make playoff noise. They had the scoring margin of a 50-win team last season. Al Horford reanimates every limb of an offense that suffocated amid cramped spacing. He's a better shooter than every other Boston big, save Kelly Olynyk, and by far the most well-rounded pick-and-roll option of the Brad Stevens era -- key for a team that ranked an ugly 27th in points per possession on plays their screeners finished with a shot, turnover, or drawn foul, per Synergy Sports. Boston should also do better from deep than the dreadful 33.5 percent it hit last season. The Celtics nailed just 34 percent from the corners, fourth-worst in the league; Marcus Smart shot an unthinkable 20 percent on those short triples, and Bradley dipped to 33 percent -- an outlier for him. Toss in a defense that should be among the three or four stingiest, and Boston starts in a dead heat with Toronto for the No. 2 seed.

Some may shake their heads and others will roll their eyes about the C's being slotted alongside a perennial championship contender like the Spurs - but is it really that farfetched?

Boston has a young, brilliant coach leading a group that pays major attention to defense, two All-Star's in Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas playing alongside a quickly developing recent draft pick in Terry Rozier and a promising No. 3 draft pick in Jaylen Brown. The Celts are also getting plenty of love from GM's across the league.

You can take these tiers seriously or laugh them off, that's part of the fun. But, if there's anything that is indisputable it's that this Celtics team is on its way on up, waaaay up.

Photo credit: Wendell Cruz/USA Today Sports
Follow Luis on Twitter @luisgnyc

Luis Gonzalez 10/23/2016 11:53:00 AM Edit
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