That’s “Chamber of Reflection” by Mac DeMarco. It’s a truly sad song. It’s one I’ve had on repeat for days now. Mac doesn’t do much lyrically on the track, but the synthy and melancholy instrumental by itself is enough to elicit a feeling of ripe emptiness. The hook is simply, “alone again” repeated. For the song, that’s enough. He succeeds in making you feel isolated and as is emphasized, alone.
Many NBA teams may have DeMarco’s dismal track as their sorrowful anthem of the season. Those are the saddest NBA teams of 2018. Being who I am, living in a perpetual state of sadness, I feel as qualified as anyone to rank the saddest teams in the league.
Let’s get depressed.
Now, I can’t just arbitrarily decide who the saddest NBA teams are. Instead, I’ll arbitrarily construct a scoring system to rank these teams.
Category 1 – Team Record.
This one can score a team 1-20 sadness points. The worse your team, the sadder it is. Less wins = higher score. More wins = lower score.
Category 2 – Player Injury
This one can score a team 1-20 sadness points. The more injuries and the more severe those injuries are, the sadder it is. For example, if the 12th man has a torn ACL, you’d get fewer points than a team that has their franchise cornerstone out with a ruptured achilles.
Category 3 – Front Office/Ownership.
This one can score a team 1-20 sadness points. The worse your front office and ownership are, the sadder it is. For example. If your GM signs a bad player to a ludicrous contract, you get more points than if he found a star in the 2nd round.
Category 4 – Roster
This one can score a team 1-20 sadness points. If your team has a lot of young players with potential, the worse the sadness score. If your team is devoid of those young players with potential, the higher the sadness score.
Category 5 – Team Chemistry
This one can score a team 1-10 sadness points. If your team loves each other, the fewer points you score. If everyone on the team hates each other, the more points you get.
Category 6 – Fun Factor
This one can score a team 1-10 sadness points. This is all dependent on how fun the team is. The more fun they are to watch, the fewer points you get. The less fun they are, the more points you get.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get sad.
Candidate 1: Phoenix Suns
Category 1 – Record: The Suns currently have an 18-44 record, good for dead last in the West. They also have the worst defense in the league and the 19th ranked offense. It peaked early in the season when on the Suns’ regular season home opener, they lost by a franchise record 48 points. Then it peaked again when they lost by 46 points to the Warriors (a game where Steve Kerr, the HEAD COACH of the Warriors refused to coach his own team) A perfect sadness score here. 20/20 points given.
Category 2 – Injury: The Suns have had only three players succumb to serious injury. Alan Williams with a torn meniscus, Brandon Knight with a torn ACL, and new addition Isaiah Canaan with a fractured ankle. Those players are at best, 6th or 7th men on a good team. None of the Suns’ potential cornerstones are injured, so a relatively low score here. (Bonus points for Brandon Knight though because Brandon Knight’s career is extremely sad. He went from averaging 17+ points and a sort of/not really potential all-star in Milwaukee to being a complete afterthought in Phoenix. That’s pretty sad.) 9/20 points given.
Category 3 – Front Office: Ryan McDonough is not great. He did the three point guard thing with Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe*, and Isaiah Thomas**. Then he signed then 32-year-old Tyson Chandler to an absolutely terrible four year, $52 million dollar contract and then swung super hard on LaMarcus Aldridge and missed even harder. As bad as McDonough is, his owner, Robert Sarver is even worse. He was labeled “Not Fit to Own NBA Franchise” by Bleacher Report in 2010. That was 8 years ago. Last October, SI wrote a piece calling for Sarver to sell the Suns. He’s allowed McDonough to run the franchise into the ground and is one of the only owners in the league that everyone seems to agree should not own an NBA team. Another perfect score here. 20/20 sadness points given.
* = “I Dont wanna be here”
** = ISAIAH THOMAS’ SEASON IS 100% SAD IT’S INCREDIBLY DEPRESSING
Category 4 – Roster: Eric Bledsoe was probably the team’s best player going into the season. He played only 3(!!!) games for the team before ever so publicly demanding a trade. Devin Booker is fun and young, but the 21-year-old is incapable of carrying this roster. Josh Jackson is only a rookie but has been bad. Marquese Chriss has actually gotten worse in his sophomore year. Dragan Bender is still not ready for the NBA. New addition Elfrid Payton exists, I guess. It’s looking very bleak for the Suns outside of Booker and maybe Bender and Jackson. That’s pretty sad. 16/20 sadness points given.
Category 5: Team Chemistry: The Suns seem to not hate each other but also don’t seem to particularly like each other. So an even 5/10 score given.
Category 6 – Fun Factor: Watching Devin Booker when he’s hot is fun but outside of that you’ll be hard-pressed to find a player that’s worth watching. The Suns’ style of play isn’t particularly fun either. Though, if you want to watch a team score 150, the best bet is to watch the Suns get torched by any NBA offense. Honestly, the most fun thing for the Suns is whenever rapper and Phoenix native, Futuristic, does the halftime show. He’s not even that good which is even sadder. 3/10 score here.
The Phoenix Suns get a total sadness score of 73/100.
Candidate 2: Memphis Grizzlies
Category 1 – Record: Anticipated as a potential playoff team, the Grizzlies have not lived up to expectations. Their record is only 18-41. That’s good for 12th in the West and 5th worst in the league. They’re bad, but not excruciatingly bad. 18/20 points scored.
Category 2- Injury: This one is a big oof. While Marc Gasol has only missed two games this year, but Mike Conley, the Grizzlies’ best player, has missed nearly the entire season with an achilles injury. That alone is incredibly sad, especially considering that achilles injuries are some of the worst to come back from. Chandler Parsons is perpetually injured, Tyreke Evans has missed around 10 games, and JaMychal Green missed an extensive amount of time at the start of the season, forcing Jarell Martin (who was going to be cut by the Grizzlies before the season) to start. Player’s health has been pretty gosh darn bleak in Memphis. 19/20 sadness points given.
Category 3 – Front Office: Hahahaha. The front office is pretty bad. I have to start with the most egregious offense; famously drafting Hasheem Thabeet 2nd overall. Other than that, they traded OJ Mayo for Kevin Love on draft day, signed Chandler Parsons to probably the worst contract in the league, fired Dave Fizdale for no reason, didn’t trade Tyreke Evans, and have refused to trade Gasol or Conley. Though, they’re not all the way bad. They could be praised for drafting Mike Conley, trading for Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and signing Tayshaun Prince and Tony Allen. There’s still a lot more bad than there is good here. 15/20 sadness points.
Category 4 – Roster: Yeesh, these guys are thin. Because they’ve been so injured, Andrew Harrison, Dillon Brooks, and Jarell Martin have started multiple games together. That isn’t exactly a winning formula. The theory has always been that if Conley and Gasol are healthy, it’s at least 45 wins. But, Conley hasn’t been healthy, Gasol has fallen off tremendously defensively and apart from Tyreke Evans’ play, they’re not getting anything else from their roster. 17/20 points given.
Category 5 – Team Chemistry: Historically, the Grizzlies have been a really tight-knight group. Though the glue guys like Tony Allen and Zach Randolph are gone, you’ll always have a partially positive locker room if Gasol and Conley are in it. 3/10 points given.
Category 6 – Fun Factor: Tyreke has been fun, Gasol’s offense has been fun, Chandler Parsons for like one game was fun. But, it’s really, really hard to be a fun team if you’re putting out lineups full of young guys with low ceilings (looking at you Andrew Harrison and Ben Mclemore). 5/10 points given,
The Memphis Grizzlies get a total sadness score of 77/100.
Candidate 3: Chicago Bulls
Category 1 – Record: As anticipated going into the year, the Bulls have been not good. They’re 12th in the East and 7th worst in the league with a 20-40 record. They’ve improved as the year’s gone on, but I don’t see them getting much better. 16/20 score here.
Category 2- Injury: Most notably, Zach LaVine sat out much of the season with a torn ACL, Nikola Mirotic got his face broken by Bobby Portis, and Kris Dunn got absolutely taken out by the floor after a dunk. 2 out of 3 of those injuries are funny so I’ll give them a 10/20 score.
Category 3 – Front Office: The legendarily bad combo GMing of John Paxson and Gar Forman, dubbed GarPax, will probably poison Chicago until the end of eternity. They have consistently made short-sided and flat-out terrible decisions and seem perfectly content with letting the Bulls flounder in mediocrity. After saying they were building for the future, they went out and signed a broken Dwyane Wade and even more broken Rajon Rondo. They traded Taj Gibson and a first for Cameron Payne (ew ew ew), and drove Jimmy Butler out of town. The Jimmy trade looks good now, but it doesn’t excuse their numerous transgressions against Bulls fans. 18/20 sadness points given.
Category 4 – Roster: The Bulls are young and young teams are almost always bad. But, there’s reason to be optimistic. Lauri Markkanen is gonna be really good. Dunn has made a lot of improvement from his rookie year, LaVine is a great scorer, Portis has shown some life, and Robin Lopez is one of the better low-usage centers you can get. With that said, Cameron Payne is absolutely awful, Jerian Grant and Denzel Valentine haven’t been much better, and Cristiano Felicio is getting paid almost $10 million a year to sit on the bench and do nothing. 12/20 points given.
Category 5 – Team Chemistry: I mean, apart from Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic trying to kill each other, the Bulls don’t seem to hate each other. 4/10 sadness points given.
Category 6 – Fun Factor: I’ll get this first thing out of the way, Lauri Markkanen is the greatest Bull of all-time. Kris Dunn is also good at basketball and Zach LaVine will always be fun. Robin Lopez is one of my favorite players in the league strictly because of his hair and mascot feuds. 1/10 sadness score.
The Bulls get a total sadness score of 61/100.