The Oklahoma City Thunder aren’t supposed to win games this season. Doing so would go against the franchise’s long-term plans. After trading Russell Westbrook and Paul George two years ago, Oklahoma City has gone into full rebuild mode. That’s the kind way to put it. More accurately, the Thunder are tanking as shamelessly as any team since the ‘Process’ era Philadelphia 76ers.
Oklahoma City has filled the roster almost exclusively with young players who don’t know how to win. More losses mean improved odds in thelottery for the chance to land a superstar in the draft. Tanking isn’t as appealing as it once was after the league flattened the percentages for the worst teams a few years back, but the Thunder still think it’s their best shot at building a contender in one of the league’s smallest markets. Despite already having some exciting young pieces, OKC doesn’t plan on being competitive again for at least a few more years.
Some people thought the Thunder would win six games all season. Instead, Oklahoma City won six of its first 15 games before starting a long losing streak. For the most part, the Thunder have been pretty fun even if they’re bad. That changed when they faced the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night when things got historically ugly.
The Thunder didn’t just lose to a Grizzlies team playing without Ja Morant. They lost by 73 points. That’s the biggest loss in NBA history. Memphis also scored its most points in franchise history in the 152-79 win. The Grizzlies were an 11.5-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.
After the game, the Thunder tweeted this.
regroup and back at it Monday pic.twitter.com/xNhPToSr83— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) December 3, 2021
Sometimes when life gets tough, there’s nothing else to do but tweet through it. This is a masterclass in tweeting through it.
The Thunder didn’t have star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who was out with a concussion, or promising rookie Josh Giddey. They still should have been able to put up a fight against a Grizzlies team without Morant, though. OKC let the Grizzlies shoot 62.5 percent from the field and 52.8 percent from three-point range. OKC finished with almost twice as many turnovers as the Grizzlies. Memphis finished with 41 assists (!) to only 14 for OKC.
Want to watch a 10-minute highlight package of the Grizzlies giving the Thunder the worst loss ever? Here it is:
After the game, the Twitter trending topics accidentally put projected No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero as one of the team’s sidelined stars. Is this a sign from the future?
December 3, 2021
It’s almost fitting this loss happened on the day I released a primer on the 2023 NBA Draft class. There are some legit superstar prospects in that class, and Sam Presti and the rest of the Thunder braintrust is certainly extremely aware of it. Maybe the ping-pong balls will bounce the right way one day and OKC will have its next Kevin Durant or Westbrook or Harden.
If not? The Thunder better start adding some veteran talent to the roster soon. Thunder fans have been incredibly loyal through the years, and they don’t deserve to watch a product like this.