Sorry, I don't buy the "this team is improved on paper and that will automatically show up in the standings argument."
I'm not arguing that they've slipped from last season. I'm not even arguing that our top competition for slots 5-8 of the playoffs have drastically improved.
But when you've got six or seven teams fighting for the last four playoff spots, weird things happen. Did anybody think last March that Philly would fall all the way out of the playoffs and Chicago would get in? Some did, some didn't. But that's what happens when you get into a crazy race with multiple tie-breakers.
Saying "this team may be lottery-bound" is not that much different that saying, "this is about 0.500 team." A game or two under 0.500 and you're in the lottery. A game or two over 0.500 and you might have the #5 seed.
(And while I know there is a slight advantage in being the #5 seed instead of the #8 seed it isn't that much of a difference.)