It took some doing.
Some teams scraping together wins in bunches while the Grizzlies continue to avoid that column in the team’s record.
But it happened. The Memphis Grizzlies are the worst team in the NBA.
Nothing I’m telling you is news. That paragraph would seem a lot more prophetic if it was written before Memphis lost 19 (and counting) games in a row. But now, it feels like rubbing salt into my own wounds.
This season has been nothing but painful for the Grizzlies and their fans. Mike Conley simply lost an entire season of his career from the get-go due to injury. Tyreke Evans’ audition for contenders in the first half of the year was for naught after the Grizzlies failed to pull the trigger on a deadline deal. Marc Gasol has a limited amount of time to still be impactful in this league as a 33-year old center, and more time is wasted the more time he spends coaching up G-league players for the Grizzlies.
But this shouldn’t be enough to turn the fans away for good. Memphis has been down-right spoiled over the past 7 years. A laughingstock franchise before, nobody could keep them out of the playoffs. And when “superteams” came to fruition, it did not matter much to Memphis whose “Core Four” included five combined All-Star appearances among them. The Grizzlies weren’t handcrafted for success, but they’ve made it work before. \
They deserve the fan’s time to right their wrongs over the next couple of years.
What rebuilding shouldn’t be is an opportunity to fall out of love. Kings fans are allowed to feel that way after years and years of torture. Clippers fans before Blake Griffin and Chris Paul were allowed to feel that. The Grizzlies shouldn’t be losing fans over the first awful season in nearly a decade, but it can be easy for those fans to lose interest. Watching the same team lose over and over and over again is a drain, both emotionally and mentally. I don’t know how many different ways I can say this team is bad because of how bad they’ve been. I simply do not have enough words in my vocabulary to do it justice.
But I still love the Grizzlies. And like any relationship, keeping that love alive takes work.
As fans of basketball, fans of the Grizzlies, and Memphians, there are plenty of ways to keep your interest levels high enough to stave off the lows of a league-worst season.
Enjoy the League
This is a big league. There are 29 other teams in the NBA and all of them are technically better than the Grizzlies. I don’t know if “technically” was actually necessary in that previous sentence.
The Houston Rockets look genuinely unbeatable with James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela all playing. The Raptors need to prove themselves in the playoffs, but they have a different look and style to them this year. Golden State is still Golden State. Anthony Davis is having a freakish season. So is Giannis. The Spurs might miss the playoffs and also have a rift in their organization over Kawhi Leonard. THIS LEAGUE IS GREAT. Those are just a taste of the storylines this season. I haven’t even mentioned LeBron or the Celtics.
Enjoy this league. It’s easy to get tunnel vision and see every NBA news and highlight in the scope of how it impacts your team as a fan, but take a step back and survey the landscape. People clamored that the league was ruined when Kevin Durant joined the Warriors, but the league product might be the best I’ve ever seen on a night-to-night basis.
Keep up with the award races. Pick a side on the Donovan Mitchell-Ben Simmons Rookie of the Year battle and act indignant towards the other side when they DARE suggest their man should win the award.
Hey, I paid $200 for an NBA League Pass product that doesn’t work. I’ll be damned if I’m not getting every penny’s worth even if it means watching the Sacramento Kings vs the Atlanta Hawks on a Thursday night. I don’t care.
Don’t Pay Attention to Results
Losing sucks. We’ve endured a lot of it, but we still have a bit more losing to do before this season is over. After years of being able to look competitive against every team in the league, the Grizzlies would kill to look competitive against ANY team. Seriously, please, just any team.
At this point in the season, teams know what they are. Wins and losses from now on aren’t, and shouldn’t be, indicative of how a team can change or evolve. We have 65-70 games worth of data on every NBA team, what they do in the next 12-17 games should be taken with a larger grain of salt knowing it could be an anomaly. It’s disheartening as hell to see loss after loss on the schedule, but...they don’t really matter. We already know Memphis is bad. You don’t need Zach Lowe breaking down the film to tell you that.
At this point in the season, losses are better in the long-term considering the lottery position they’ll give Memphis come draft time. Wins are nice for encouragement, losses are nice for the lottery, neither of them will tell us more about the Grizzlies we don’t already know. Don’t get too caught up in the results of every game. The more even-keel you can be during this home stretch, the easier it will be to manage the lows.
Scout the Future
A lot of the Grizzlies’ future depends on this draft. Memphis doesn’t have a pick in the 2019 first-round and this will be the Grizzlies’ first lottery pick since 2010, when they selected Xavier Henry with the 12th pick.
Now that Mike Conley and Marc Gasol seemingly have limited time left with the franchise, who the Grizzlies pick will have a tremendous amount of pressure to be the new cornerstone. The last time Memphis had a pick in the top-five they drafted Hasheem Thabeet.
This cannot be another Hasheem Thabeet.
So scout some college and international prospects (just Luka Doncic, basically) and find out who exactly who want to carry the mantle for the Grizzlies’ future. I’ve been pounding the drum for Deandre Ayton of Arizona all season because he seems to be one of the most dominant college players/prospects I’ve ever seen. Find your draft crush. Whether it’s Michael Porter Jr. or Marvin Bagley III, finding a crush will make the draft season a lot more fun. You can either be elated on draft night or absolutely sickened by your team’s front office because how dare they not value your draft crush at the top of their board. Having hot takes is fun.
But the hope that comes with the draft is all you need. Draft picks have all the potential in the world and can be whatever you want them to be, until they log a minute in the NBA. Who Memphis selects with their first-round pick will not have a higher level of optimism surrounding them than they will on draft night. No matter how that player turns out, there can only be a best case scenario in June.
That optimism needs to be harnessed. Within the confines of this disastrous season, optimism needs to last and last because we aren’t getting much from on-court play. Keep up your love of basketball, keep up with the happenings of the Grizzlies, but don’t let the day-to-day grind of being the worst team in the league shave away at your love of the team. The sun will come out tomorrow, darkest before the dawn, all those lovely sayings help.
Just remember that the Grizzlies will not be the worst team in the league forever, but you’ll be all the better fan for having endured this season.