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Simulating the Grizzlies on NBA 2K18: Part I - The full tank

Simulating three years on NBA 2K18 to see what a full Grizzlies tank would look like

Dallas Mavericks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Have you seen the Memphis Grizzlies play basketball this season?

First off, I’m sorry. Secondly, then you know that a series of decisions and situations went wrong that led to the disastrous season.

Thank goodness for NBA 2K, because it gives us a chance to rewrite the wrongs of the past and present.

Two wrongs in particular stood out to me. The Grizzlies wavering between tanking and contending and the firing of David Fizdale. Both of these situations happening concurrently likely made the season worse, but with this experiment I am about to propose, we can pinpoint what exactly was the turning point in one of the worst seasons in franchise history. Or it just gives me a reason to play NBA 2K18 and write about it on the world wide web.

Here’s the idea. In MyLeague mode, similar to “Franchise” in other sports video games, you can choose whether you’d like to start with current rosters or from the previous offseason, where you can start in April 2017 and play out the offseason prior. For this experiment, I will pick a situation, start with current rosters, and simulate three years into the future. It gives us enough time to properly gauge our draft picks while also not straying too far from the present where ANYTHING can happen.

This is the roster I’m starting with:

Beginning NBA 2K18 Roster
Beginning NBA 2K18 Roster pt. 2

(And also G Myke Henry but I wasn’t gonna make a whole ‘nother screenshot for him at the bottom)

House Rules

-All games are simulated. Don’t want to get my grubby human hands all over this experiment.

-Downloaded the 2018-2020 draft classes from PSN user “jackmove916” for continuity’s sake.

-Kept all of the standard options when you start the mode, except I turned “Automatic League Expansion” OFF because I do not want to deal with that when it’s definitely not happening in the next three years in the real NBA.

And these are the results:

Absolute Tank

If you’re a fan of Sam Hinkie or stare in awe of the bright future of the 76ers, this is always the most appealing option. If you know your team isn’t any serious, why not give yourself better chances of landing a superstar in the draft?

I tried to replicate this with the Grizzlies, even though it’s hard to tank a team even further that won 21 games. But when I say absolute tank, I mean absolute tank. That means Mike Conley, Tyreke Evans, and Marc Gasol are ideally all gone in exchange for value contracts and draft picks. Here’s how it actually occurred in my simulations.

Three-year record: 112-134

Best season: 44-38, 3rd year, Lost in Western Conference Semi-Finals to GSW, 0-4


-Traded: G Mike Conley and G Tyreke Evans to the Chicago Bulls for PF Bobby Portis, PG Jerian Grant, 2018 CHI 1st-round pick (top-10 protected) and 2018 NOP 1st-round pick (top-5) protected

Gets Conley’s big contract off the books while getting two decent picks in a loaded draft. For scorched earth, this is the best we can do.

-Traded: F Chandler Parsons to the Sacramento Kings for G/F Vince Carter

I have no clue how this works straight up or why the Kings would even do it, but the Grizzlies just gave up 3-years and $72 million to bring back Vinsanity. Not a bad trade.

-Traded: C Marc Gasol to the Atlanta Hawks for G/F DeAndre Bembry, the 2018-2020 ATL 2nd-round picks, and the 2020 MIN 2nd-round pick via ATL

Finished the first season (27-55) with a better record than the actual Grizzlies (21-61). Sigh.

-Signed: Nets Assistant Jacque Vaughn to be head coach.

-2018 Draft: Selected Duke PF Marvin Bagley (5th overall), Oklahoma PG Trae Young (15th overall via CHI), Villanova SG Donte DiVincenzo (26th overall via NOP)

Besides the wild tweets, this is a pretty good class in my opinion. I don’t think Trae Young is Steph Curry 2.0, but he’s a steal at 15. Video games!

Boston owns Memphis’ 2019 1st-round pick in 2K (top-8 protected in real life), so I’m trading to trade in.

-Traded PF Bobby Portis and 2019 MEM 2nd-round pick to the New York Knicks for 2019 NYK 1st-round pick (top-5 protected) and Kyle O’Quinn

After an inexplicable 26-16 start, Marvin Bagley breaks his finger and is out 4-6 weeks. Clock seems to be striking midnight.

The team limped to a 41-41 record and the 8th seed, but for a team I was intentionally trying to tank, this a big year. And....

Rookie of the Year Marvin Bagley III

Heck yeah. I feel like a proud papa.

They also took the #1 seed Warriors to 7 games!!! Even if it was a blowout, MB3!!

2019 Draft: Second round picks that don’t really matter. The Knicks top-5 protected pick did not convey, so the Grizz get it unprotected in 2020.

GOT A BIG FISH. With $54 million in cap space, I swung for G Kyrie Irving and hit. 4-years $128 Million deal to be the guy in Memphis with MB3 and Trae Young behind him. Let’s see how this season goes

AAAAAND he’s injured two games into the season. Kyrie suffered a severe left ankle sprain and is out 8-10 weeks. That hurts my soul.

-Traded: G Donte DiVincenzo, G Tony Carr and 2020 ATL 2nd Round pick to Boston for F Mike Scott, G Raul Neto and 2022 1st Round Lottery Protected pick

It’s all about getting 1st-round picks for the process. I’m fine swapping marginal players for a better pick.

Kyrie came back to the 16-15 Grizzlies. 8 games later, he broke his finger and is out another 4-6 weeks.

Memphis valiantly finished with a 44-38 record. They actually won a playoff series against the Minnesota Timberwolves! But again, lost to the Golden State Warriors, this time in the second round in four games.

Final Roster


This method of tanking definitely provided the Grizzlies the best chance to land superstars. Marvin Bagley III sure looked like one and Kyrie Irving already is one, and we had the cap space after some trades to actually get him. In just three years we could see progress and development that had occured, but the real peak of this team might be another three years down the road. I am confident that this process will work though as star-power is exactly what a team needs to compete in this NBA, especially one where the Golden State Warriors WON’T STOP WINNING EVERYTHING.


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