But I don’t remember anyone saying that they expected any of those teams to slip all the way to No. 7 in its conference.
I reread your letter, and the same holds for you. There’s a difference between denouncing the disparity in teams’ off-seasons and predicting that the defending champion Lakers would finish seventh in the West.
Injuries and Covid-19 disruptions have been a major factor for the Lakers, Heat and Celtics, on top of the unfairness, but all have still managed to slip further in the standings than any of the worst-case-scenario pundits were projecting when the season began.
Q: You have been writing a lot about the Nets’ recent signing of the former CSKA Moscow guard Mike James. I want to ask you about the guard from my country who recently joined CSKA: Gabriel Lundberg. He does not have a Luka Doncic pedigree, but he was the driving force behind Denmark’s upset of Lithuania in November. Does he have an N.B.A. future? — Martin Ronnow Lund (Denmark)
Stein: Thank you, Martin, for what (I think) will be recorded as our first question from Denmark.
I’ve done some checking on Lundberg, since I admittedly don’t have much of a file on him, and it’s fair to say that N.B.A. teams are well aware of him now. At 26, he has made a storybook progression from playing in the Spanish second division as recently as the 2017-18 season to emerging as a force with a European powerhouse like CSKA. The performance (28 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists) you referred to against Lithuania certainly registered in front offices here, even though Lithuania didn’t have access to its N.B.A. players.
There will be questions about his size (6-foot-4) as a shooting guard and his one-on-one skills, but I am told he plays with great confidence — to go with his great back story. Perhaps he can be the first Dane to really break through in the N.B.A.; helping a James-less CSKA reach the EuroLeague final four ensures he will be well scouted.
Lars Hansen was the first Danish-born player to be drafted and had a brief stint with Seattle in the late 1970s, but he moved to Canada at a young age and represented Canada in the 1976 Olympics. David Andersen, who had a Danish father, had stints with Houston, Toronto and New Orleans in the N.B.A., but he was born in Australia and played internationally as an Australian. The Nets drafted the Copenhagen-born Christian Drejer with the 51st overall pick in 2004, but Drejer never played in the N.B.A.