Here's a question: What do Orlando, Charlotte, Cleveland, Washington, Detroit, Toronto, Philadelphia and Milwaukee have in common?
The answer: You can easily argue that as of right now each of those cities hosts an NBA team with inferior talent to that of the Boston Celtics.
Place an asterisk on Cleveland, which has the potential to be better than Boston. But that will all depend on what the Cavs will get out of oft-injured center Andrew Bynum. So for now give the nod to the Celtics.
You may be hoping the Celtics will spend the 2013-14 season tanking for the lottery as they embark on an unenviable rebuilding project over the next couple of seasons. Far easier said than done.
Indeed, the Celtics are the worst they've been on paper since they tried tanking for Greg Oden and Kevin Durant in 2006-07. But outside of Miami, Indiana, New York, Brooklyn and Chicago, the Eastern Conference remains weak. Like ... really weak.
Losing games won't be easy.
The East's No. 7 seed in next year's playoffs is a more realistic destination for the Celtics than the top 10 in the draft lottery. That's exactly where you don't want to be in the NBA, where mediocrity is a brutal beast. Too bad to contend, too good to get better.
August is fast approaching. The vast majority of the offseason chips have fallen into place across the league.
Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks - not exactly basketball royalty - took to the podium to meet the media at the Celtics' training facility in Waltham. Oddly, the most notable name coming to Boston from Brooklyn, Gerald Wallace, was not in attendance. The whole thing was forced, laughable and bizarre.
Humphries, the headline act of this underwhelming trio, looked about as comfortable as he would if he was third-wheeling at dinner with ex-wife Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.
Certainly there are more layers to the rebuilding plan of Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. Maybe Humphries, Bogans and Brooks know it's only a matter of time before Ainge deals them to shed payroll. Or maybe Ainge will miraculously strike a deal that brings in a player to help the Celtics compete now, using assets such as the future draft picks acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers (for Doc Rivers) and Brooklyn. Maybe All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo doesn't return to game action from his torn ACL until January.
Not having their best player would certainly hinder the Celtics ability to win night in and night out. Thus, aiding in the tanking process.
However, none of this appears on the horizon. We can only go by what Boston looks like right now.
If Rondo returns by Opening Night, or the close vicinity, and plays most of the season, he will be flanked by enough talent to win 35-40 games in the wretched East.
Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass, Wallace and even Humphries have proven to be talented and productive. Twelve players on Boston's roster are 28 or younger. It's a tough sell to get enthusiastic youthful players, fighting for their professional basketball lives, to tank it.
How do you convince 36year-old first-year head coach Brad Stevens that losing as much as possible in his first-ever NBA season would be ideal? And how does he convince his players to play hard, but not too hard?
Again, easier said than done.
The 2014 NBA Draft is widely regarded as one of the strongest in recent years, with multiple franchise- altering talents. The major prizes will most likely be incoming freshmen forwards Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) and Jabari Parker (Duke), as well as Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart.
The Celtics have been burned before by relying on the help of ping pong balls (see 1997). Predicting how they will bounce is an inexact science. As is forecasting can't-miss NBA prospects.
Just ask perennial lottery squads like the Bobcats, Kings and Wizards.
On the surface, tanking seems like a simple solution to the Celtics problems.
Executing that solution won't be so simple.
Follow Matt Langone at Twitter.com/MattLangone