Thursday, April 08, 2010

I don't mind losing now.

With the Grizzlies' recent elimination from the playoffs, there's been talk of how great a moral victory it will be to have a winning season. It will help the team build towards next season so it's been said. Sorry if I don't plan a parade down Beale Street.

While I'm busy not planning parades, let me share three reasons why losing these next few games will help with next season more than winning the games.

1. Grizzlies losses can move their draft picks up several positions. When Tuesday's Grizzlies-Rockets game ended with a Grizzlies loss, it also resulted in the two teams swapping their respective draft picks. The Grizzlies moved from 14 to 13 while the Rockets moved from 13 to 14. You should know that the 13th pick is better than the 14th when you're selecting players to help your team in following season. The Grizzlies probably won't overtake the Bulls for the 12 spot (1.5 games separate them), but losing the next 4 games will help.

The Grizzlies have other picks they can impact as well. There's an outside chance the loss to Orlando on Sunday will help move the pick owed to the Grizzlies from the Lakers from 29 to 28. Likewise, 2 losses to the Mavericks in the past week have given Dallas a chance to improve the pick owed to the Grizzlies by the Nuggets.

The big story for teams that actually play in playoffs is that very few games separate 2nd and 8th place. The big story for the Grizzlies is that their Denver pick could swing several positions, the Grizzlies have games against Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Denver that could impact the swing. The Denver pick could easily jump from 27 to 24: There's less than a game separating those positions. There's even a possibility that the Denver pick could move as low as 21. (Fewer than 3 games separate those positions.) And it's mathematically possible (3.5 games) that the Denver pick will be 19.

If you had trouble following that, let me summarize: The only game I want the Grizzlies to win for the rest of the season is next Monday against Denver.

Sorry if I think draft positioning is more important than moral victories, but the difference in one position can be the difference in swinging a trade or drafting an impact player. Of course, if you're busting at #2 on a consistent basis then #13 ain't gonna help.

A strategy of "tanking games" is usually most effective when coupled with a plan for using the resulting draft picks to improve the team.

2. Do we really think winning meaningless games is going to help with building on the "success" of this season? If anything, it will lead to complacency. I propose a separate theory: the worse the team does, the more inspired it should be to make a bold move to improve. For some reason I keep thinking Heisley will be embarrassed into improving the team. Of course this is the guy who says he's happy with the team, and will probably bring back the same group next year.

Luckily, that means this time next year, I can just republish the above paragraph in a new blog post.

3. Maybe a losing record will bring down the price tag of Rudy Gay. That's the biggest stretch of the three, but a fan blogger can dream, can't he?

At this point, we're looking at 3 or 4 teams that are going to strike out on signing a top free agent this summer. Will one of those teams be desperate enough to give Gay a max contract? I can't say for sure, but I can say that the last time the Grizzlies gave out a max contract it turned into Kwame Brown. And, by the way, Gay isn't as good as Pau Gasol. We're on course for a very difficult situation with the Gay contract, and until then I will latch on to any crackpot idea that helps me sleep at night.

Rudy Gay will be able to afford a new couch next year. Also, if you're searching for images of Rudy Gay on Google, I recommend 'safe search'.

So I stopped watching games religiously a few weeks ago. And I've noticed losing doesn't ruin my night any more. Maybe 9 seasons and no playoff victories is wearing on me. Maybe I know that losing is better, but I can't bare to watch unless I'm 100% behind the team winning. Maybe I'm just ready for this season to be over. It wasn't a success, four games won't change that, and you can't tell me differently.