Geoff Calkins

Geoff Calkins has been chronicling Memphis and Memphis sports for more than two decades. He is host of "The Geoff Calkins Show" from 9-11 a.m. M-F on 92.9 FM. Calkins has been named the best sports columnist in the country five times by the Associated Press sports editors, but still figures his best columns are about the people who make Memphis what it is.

Calkins: It's Zion Williamson night for the Memphis Grizzlies! (Or possibly not)

By Updated: May 14, 2019 7:06 AM CT | Published: May 13, 2019 8:02 PM CT

You ready, Grizzlies fans? You ready for one of the most thrilling moments in franchise history?

You ready to watch NBA commissioner Adam Silver announce that the Grizzlies have won the No. 1 pick and the chance to draft Duke's Zion Williamson?

You ready for a decade of watching Williamson play alongside Jaren Jackson Jr.? You ready to see the Grizzlies become a regular part of the NBA’s national television schedule?

<strong>Geoff Calkins</strong>

Geoff Calkins

You ready to rejoice and dance and call the ticket office to get season tickets while they’re still available?


OK, that’s probably wise.

The NBA lottery is Tuesday night. The future of the Grizzlies depends on the bounce of some pingpong balls.

Chris Herrington: Grizzlies: Everything you need to know – and more – about this year’s NBA Draft lottery

The franchise is sufficiently wary of the event that it isn’t even holding a draft lottery party. 

You remember those draft parties, right?

The Grizzlies would get everyone together at a local bar and wait for the picks to be unveiled.

The first year (2001) the party was at the Fox & Hound. Other years, it was at the Flying Saucer or Buffalo Wild Wings.

Last year, the Grizzlies had draft lottery parties at Railgarten, at the Buffalo Wild Wings on Hacks Cross, at Maria’s Cantina in Southaven, at 731 Sports Bar & Grill in Jackson and at The Mainstay in Nashville.

But this year?

You’re on your own. The draft lottery party has evidently gone the way of Grizzlies press conferences. And that might not even be such a bad idea, given the grim history of these events.

The Grizzlies have never actually improved their lot in any of the eight lotteries they’ve been a part of since the team moved to Memphis. They’ve slid down in the lottery five times. They’ve stayed in the same spot once. The two times they moved up – both times to the No. 2 spot – they either had to hand their pick over to Detroit because of a previous moronic trade or they drafted Hasheem Thabeet.

So this has not typically been a time of great rejoicing. And this year, there’s not even 100% agreement on what Grizzlies fans should be cheering for.

Well, except for Williamson coming to Memphis. Grizzlies fans should definitely be cheering for that. The arrival of Williamson would change the trajectory of the franchise for the next decade. It would give the Grizzlies the sort of star power they have never had, not even in the best days of the Core Four. Winning the No. 1 pick would be the biggest off-the-court moment since the franchise moved here and nothing else is even close.

The problem is the Grizzlies have just a 6% chance at that No. 1 pick. You can’t build a draft party around that. They have a 6.3% chance at No. 2 , a 6.7% chance at No. 3 and a 7.2% chance at No. 4.  Grizzlies fans would be happy with any of those.

But after that, things get muddled. The Grizzlies have a 31.2% chance of staying at No. 8. They have a 42.6%  of sliding to No. 9 or lower. And of those two alternatives, most thinking Grizzlies fans would prefer that the team slide to No. 9 or lower because then the pick would go to the Boston Celtics to complete a previous moronic trade (anyone sensing a theme?) for Jeff Green. Better for the Grizzlies to discharge the obligation now, in a lousy draft, than to risk owing Boston a higher No. 1 pick sometime in the next two years.

But let’s say that’s what happens. How could anyone celebrate that? 

Yay, we’re picking ... next year!

Yippee, we are enduring temporary pain today instead of much more severe pain in the future!

Happy debt-discharge day, everyone!

We’ll try not to do such moronic things again!

That doesn’t make for much of a party, really. You can understand why the Grizzlies are playing this down as much as possible.

So watch this lottery with your friends and family. Understated is probably best.  

Unless the Grizzlies happen to get No. 1, of course. Then someone better light up the bridge.


Memphis Grizzlies Zion Williamson NBA Lottery Geoff Calkins

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