In my first edition of “Noise From The Sain Asylum” here at 3SOB I decided to share my viewpoint on an issue that has more Grizz fans flip-flopping more than Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in a playoff game. Tanking. Not even 5 games into the season, fans started to ask the question of whether or not the team was tanking or losing purposely in an effort to land a high lottery pick in the 2014 draft. A draft which looks to be the best and deepest draft since the 2008 draft which produced the likes of Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, Eric Gordon, Russell Westbrook and O.J. Mayo. Those accusations then and even now are a little premature, but with the Grizz sitting at 13-17 and in 12th place in the West without All Star Center Marc Gasol in the lineup and the transition of adding a new head coach, you have to at least wonder sometime what is the goal and plan of the team and front office going forward. Are we trying to get into the playoffs with hopes that when Marc returns and adds his scoring, defense and vocal leadership, that we will be able to make a playoff run? Or do we believe that even with Marc or a resemblance of Marc back that we will either not make the playoffs or make it and get eliminated early? As a fan who wants the best for this team not only for this season but for the future I am honestly torn, and here’s why.
To Tank: I grew up as a San Francisco 49ers fan and watched them suffer for most of the early 2000’s and have extremely bad teams. I also was adopted fan of the local Tennessee Titans who had success in the early 2000’s and have tried to piece together decent and competitive teams ever since then. Since then the 49ers have stockpiled elite level talent via the draft and have been to a Super Bowl and have set themselves up to be contenders not only this year but for years to come. The Titans routinely are right outside of the playoffs and are rarely in position to even add a legitimate impact player through the draft. Titans fans, like Grizz fans could easily say that we have seen the top of the mountain and don’t want to go back down, but without a plan and the resources to actually climb over the mountain sometimes you have to take a step back to take two forward. You can argue that even at full strength that our team flat out can’t stand toe to toe with the elite teams in the league and we lack the consistent scoring punch to be ranked among the elite. Yes we have had playoff success but it would be short sighted to think that we would have made that same run in any other playoff scenario last season. We came into last season’s playoffs openly wanting to avoid teams like Denver in the first round and some even hoped to avoid Houston who was and is still a very unfavorable matchup. We have the same weaknesses this season as we had last season and in my opinion and others a season ending with the opposing team looking like they are leaps and bounds ahead of us seems very realistic. And the worst part of this scenario is having a fair season either making or just missing out on the playoffs and then having a mid first round pick that may have a nominal effect on the roster next season. Being a franchise in the middle is never fun nor beneficial (see Atlanta Hawks) and sometimes the difference in just a few regular season wins is also the difference between Paul George and Xavier Henry. There are franchise changing players in the top 5-7 picks and players that can add great dynamics to this roster in the lottery.
Not To Tank: There is also another side of me that sees a scenario where we go all in for a playoff run. Since losing Marc, players like Ed Davis, Jon Leuer, and new addition James Johnson have really rose to the occasion. You can’t help but to assume that when Marc comes back that the increase in play by those pleasant surprises can help us out drastically. Even though our perimeter play has been inconsistent and at times non existent you have to believe that the strength of our front court can still lead us to a deep run in the playoffs. There is something magical about this franchise and there is always a moment every season where the Believe Memphis moniker on our growl towels proves to be more than a marketing gimmick. I could easily see a scenario where we make the 7th seed, face the clippers first round, eliminate them and get another favorable matchup against a team like the Warriors, and there you are right back in the WCF. The FO is also actively and by some reports desperately trying to make a deal to land a high level wing at either the shooting guard or small forward position. The dynamics of this team could skyrocket with the right perimeter edition to add to our at times dominant front court, especially if Marc can get to 100% by the time of the playoffs. They made a homerun addition with James Johnson and what if Seth Curry is result of the same mojo? Conley is playing the best ball of his career when healthy and there is no doubt that Tony Allen will be back on his full time grind if we make the playoffs. The Thunder have similar injury issues and the Spurs, even though they have honestly owned us lately are beatable especially with some Memphis magic that often appears in big moments. A sincere effort to win would also be beneficial for the moral of the fans and the general perception of the front office and coaching staff. Not that it matters but if the team appears to be tanking it will definitely come with a backlash from groups of fans.
Whether we will eventually go in a full blown tankfest or we are making an all out effort for a potential playoff run there will be fans on both sides who see both immediate and long term benefits. Trust me your viewpoint will change a lot during the season so just try to enjoy every moment that we can…or can’t!
Follow Anthony Sain on twitter @SainAsylum3sob