There's an eternal debate across the NBA on whether teams should blow it up when it becomes clear a championship is out of reach with the current roster. When you don't land a James Harden in a trade or a LeBron James in free agency or a Stephen Curry in the draft, it's hard to reach the elite tier.
In the case of those who think teams should be willing to blow it up sits the Grizzlies. Memphis peaked years ago and hasn't really moved forward. "Grit 'n Grind" slowly shifted with the departure of Zach Randolph and Tony Allen. Now, with Marc Gasol frustrated and Mike Conley injured, a highly successful era could reach its conclusion in Memphis.
For many people that end wasn't reached soon enough. The argument is the Grizzlies should have blown it up years ago, traded Gasol while they could still get something of value for him and began anew with youth as the base. That model provides hope to hungry fans and often is unavoidable anyway. However, it's not always easy.
While the Grizzlies are in a slide from an era of great success, the Magic have been waiting for their young pieces to bear fruit for ages. Every flash of hope is met with a losing streak or a strike that puts them right back to where they were: a rebuilding team with more questions than answers. The Magic followed the book. They traded away veterans. They acquired young talent through the draft. They haven't been able to win games. They're the example of what happens when the rebuild doesn't pan out the way everybody hopes.
None of this is to say that either side is right, wrong, or that these two teams are going to stay like this the entire season. Just that every organization is different and there's no easy path to success. Some teams hold on to what they have when it works and hope they can find some magic to take another step forward. Others try to tear it down and start over. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it fails.
|It's way too early to be talking about the MVP race, but James Harden is playing like he's still mad about not getting it last year. Even with Chris Paul back in the lineup, he's dominating possessions and doing some incredible things. Harden is must-watch TV.||2|
|It's really weird how the Celtics don't have a great offense (14th in points per possession) because they're so interesting on that end with Kyrie Irving breaking ankles and Al Horford bombing away from 3-point range. However, it's their defense and clutch work that gets wins.||1|
|The Warriors are 20-4 without Kevin Durant since he joined. That has led to debates about his real value. But remember how Durant won Game 3 for Golden State in the NBA Finals. The Warriors are great without Durant. They feel unstoppable with him.||1|
|Tony Parker is back, which will give the Spurs some much needed depth. But Kawhi Leonard is still out with no real timetable of when he'll be back. At what point does his long term absence become a concern?||2|
|The Cavs have won seven straight and are back to being considered a contender in the East. It's no surprise that a LeBron James led team eventually got it together, but it took them a little longer than expected.||6|
|When the Sixers get it going, goodness gracious, do they look scary. The Magic, who are in their own kind of funk right now, had no answer for Joel Embiid while J.J. Redick rained 3-pointers on them. It was a prime example of just how good Philadelphia can be.||2|
|Going across the coast is never easy for either conference, but Portland looks in control of its current East Coast swing. Unlike previous years, this season's Blazers team feels real thanks to their great defense.||2|
|Detroit is in this weird position where they are still really good, but because of the slightest regression back to earth, hotter teams have passed them. They have a few tests coming up that will help define where they're at right now.||1|
|Indiana is easily the surprise team of the season early on. They started off well, but when they went through a rough patch it was assumed they were turning into what everybody thought they would be. They proceeded to rip off five straight wins and gave the Celtics a fight. The defense is still not great, but the Pacers look good enough to be a playoff team in the East.||7|
|Toronto's benches are dominating other benches so easily that the Raptors starters all have lower on-court net ratings than the bench players behind them. That despite only Jonas Valanciunas rating as a negative presence on the court.||6|
|A lot is being made about the fact that Karl-Anthony Towns' defense so far has just been dreadful. Is it a problem? Yes, but it feels like one that should be solvable. Either way, the Wolves are winning a lot for the first time in a long time so it's hard to harp on it too much.||6|
|New Orleans is getting its players back from injury and positioning itself for a run. How good can a full strength Pelicans team be now that they've added quality veterans such as Jameer Nelson and Tony Allen to the roster? So far, it's going well.||3|
|Paul Millsap is expected to miss three months. The Nuggets looked like a potential playoff team with him, but now they're going to rely on Kenneth Faried and Juancho Hernangomez for those minutes. What happens to the defense?||1|
|John Wall is out for about two weeks with a knee injury. The Wizards have struggled to put together consistency this season, so this could get rough for a bit.||1|
|There was a brief moment where it looked like the Knicks were going to beat the Rockets thanks to Michael Beasley. That would have been the greatest timeline. Alas.||1|
|The Heat were the ones to put an end to the Celtics' winning streak, and they followed that up by scoring seven points in a quarter against the Bulls. Basketball is funny sometimes.||3|
|Donovan Mitchell is legit. The rookie guard had a great performance against the Bucks and gets more comfortable with every game. He's also helped the Jazz climb out of an early hole to look respectable again.||5|
|Giannis getting into an argument with an assistant coach is a non-issue. What is an issue is the Bucks' defensive scheme. It's not working, and it's hurting Milwaukee from reaching their full potential.||8|
|Nicolas Batum re-injured his elbow briefly. Malik Monk is in the DNP-CD zone. Kemba Walker still has no help. Charlotte might be an early-season seller at this rate.||2|
|The Thunder have the second-best defense in the NBA. They have the sixth best net rating. They just blew out the Warriors. Why are they this low? Because they let the Mavericks blow them out and have lost four of five. How can a good team be this bad?||2|
|The Lakers' defense is shockingly good. Julius Randle is playing a big part in that. He's the only rotation player with a positive net rating.||3|
|Dallas has moved up from truly awful to just another bad team. They keep games close, beat other bad teams, and apparently blowout the Thunder. It isn't going to amount to anything this year, but the wins are fun moments in a rebuild.||5|
|Los Angeles managed to stop their losing streak at nine, but they haven't made it easy on themselves. Injuries have plagued them and their lack of depth is showing through in the worst way||3|
|The Suns are the NBA's new worst defensive team, with Cleveland playing slightly better on that end as of late.||1|
|The Nets' band of castoffs may have been the team to put the nail in the coffin for the Grizzlies' Marc Gasol era.||--|
|Buddy Hield isn't someone to build a team around, but he's going to be an incredible hot-hand player for years to come. When he gets going, his shot just don't miss, as he showed with a 16-point fourth quarter vs. the Clippers.||3|
|Everybody knew it would get rough when Mike Conley went down, but not this bad. Their 5-1 start feels like an eternity ago||10|
|It's one thing to lose eight games in a row. It's another to so frequently get blown out during that stretch of losses. The offense has completely regressed from what it once was.||8|
|The Bulls lost a game where the Heat scored seven points for an entire quarter because in that same quarter they only scored 13.||1|
|Atlanta was down 45 to the Raptors. Nobody in the NBA should be down 45 to anybody.||2|