To say that tonight's draft lottery is important to the Grizzlies is, of course, obvious. But to call it the most important moment in the history of the franchise, or to say that where the Grizzlies pick in this summer's draft will be the determining factor in how long the Grizzlies stay in Memphis, or to say—as I saw somewhere—that Memphis is still "haunted" by the 2003 lottery that saw LeBron go to Cleveland and Memphis' pick turn into Detroit's Darko years... there's important and there's epochal; the 2018 Draft has the potential to be the latter but is only guaranteed to be the former.
Heading into tonight's lottery, the worst they can do is fifth, and while that would certainly be a disappointment given their second-worst overall record, it's still a good pick. Given the tank they pulled (though they certainly could've lost another few games here and there), finishing outside of the top 3 in the lottery will feel like a failure. The odds would seem to be in the Grizzlies' favor on that front.
The players available are all interesting prospects, and each choice offers the Grizzlies a new multitude of further choices to make: If they draft Luka Doncic, what does that do to the wing rotation, and can he finally be the perimeter playmaker they've needed since Shane Battier won them a playoff game against the Spurs? If Doncic is gone and they take Deandre Ayton, does that spell the end of Memphis' Marc Gasol era? Now or later? Can Marvin Bagley develop into the new star of the Grizzlies' frontcourt?
And what about the rest of the seemingly deep draft class—who among them will make it, and whom among them would be a Thabeet-level flub?
Ah, yes, there's that name again. If anything haunts this lottery, it's that the Grizzlies made what was maybe, given that literally every other player taken in the first round became a better NBA player with the possible exceptions of Christian Eyenga and Victor Claver, the worst pick in NBA Draft history. But Griz-watchers are fortunate here: It seems unlikely that any of the potential top 5 in this draft class are that bad. They all seem to actually enjoy playing basketball, for instance.
I find it hard to get that worked up about tonight's lottery. There's just not much you can analyze until it happens. Which players will likely be available where the Grizzlies are picking? What should their draft board look like? (Andrew Ford already took a crack at that one in these pages.) I just find it hard to say much other than "I guess we'll see."
Probability is a funny thing. There's no real way to write about the lottery itself beforehand in a predictive way; no one knows how things will shake out (unless you believe the conspiracy theories that the lottery is rigged, which, well, I can't say I haven't thought about it). All we know is that right now, the Grizzlies might pick first, or they might pick fifth, or they might pick anywhere in between.
Do you feel lucky?