The worst loss in NBA history. Seven months after the worst home loss in NBA history. For a team that enjoyed a decade-long run of success, owning records for being on the wrong end of the biggest beatdowns in sports is a tough pill to swallow.
And sure, the Thunder were without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Kenrich Williams, and Derrick Favors. But OKC ran out 10 players that are supposed to be NBA-level talents. Not to mention, Memphis was without its best player, Ja Morant.
A 73-point loss shouldn’t happen.
Yet, despite taking the biggest L in all of NBA history, I’m going to–with a straight face no less–give you three reasons why everything is fine.
- The Thunder are better than this. The loss against the Grizzlies marked the eighth straight defeat for OKC, and tenth in the last 11 games. Before that, though, OKC had run off four straight wins and started to look like a competent team. In fact, if you exclude last night’s loss, OKC’s average point differential was just -7 points. Lest you forget, this is the youngest team in the NBA, with the league’s lowest payroll. There are going to be ups, and there are going to be downs. Sure, the downs aren’t supposed to be this deep, but hopefully Mark Daigneault can use this as a teachable moment.
- Losses are more valuable than wins. Not that OKC was likely to make the playoffs, but the Atlanta Hawks get OKC’s first-round pick if it falls outside of the top 14. Thus, making the playoffs is actually quite bad for OKC’s future. Not to mention, every loss improves the team’s lottery odds, and after the disappointment of not landing a top 5 pick in 2021, it seems all the more important to try to get at least one for the 2022 NBA Draft.
- The loss is a reminder how far the Thunder have to go to be a contender. After rolling off four wins, you could almost see the optimism floating in Oklahoma City. Tweets were tweeted and articles were written asking whether the Thunder were ahead of schedule. A 73-point shellacking is a cold reminder that, no, OKC is not one piece away from contending again. No, OKC shouldn’t be aggressive at the trade deadline. No, OKC shouldn’t throw caution to the wind in the offseason to try to lure an overpaid free agent. This rebuild is going to take some time, and though players like SGA and Lu Dort (and hopefully, Giddey) could shorten the timeline some, a team that’s “one piece away” doesn’t get flattened by an average NBA team down its best player.