Wikipedia defines a tsunami as: a series of waves created when a body of water, such as an ocean, is rapidly displaced. Basically what occurs is that an earthquake causes the ocean floor to drop at a certain point, while raising it at another point, causing the temporary displacement of water. As a result of this, the water is sucked back from the shoreline to fill that point where there is a void, revealing areas that are normally completely submerged, only it then returns to the shore, because the water is only displaced temporarily. The incoming water is the tsunami, which destroys everything in its path and often arrives with little to no warning.
I can see people rolling their eyes right now. "First, he talks about astronomy and now we get a lesson on geology and oceanography?" Calm down -- I'll bring it back to the NBA, just you watch.
The Earthquake: Pau Gasol traded to the Los Angeles Lakers
When Gasol was traded, the shock wave was felt throughout the league. Everyone knew that something major had just occurred and that something had to be done as a result of it. Over the next few weeks, Phoenix trades for Shaq and Dallas trades for Kidd in an attempt to keep up. The Grizzlies hunker down to play out the rest of their season amid the chaos they helped to create.
The Water Recedes: The remaining Grizzlies show what they are made of.
When the water pulls back, it reveals portions of the shoreline that would otherwise be submerged, allowing you a better understanding of what was beneath the surface. In the case of some players, they responded positively, as Rudy, Conley, Kyle and Hakim all had productive 2nd halves. Others showed that they are still the same player that they have always been, which was the case for Mike Miller, Kwame Brown, Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins. This isn't to say that these are bad players, but there isn't a lot of untapped potential for them to draw on, as there was for the younger players. There are still a few unknowns at this point in Javaris Crittenton and Darko Milicic, but the franchise got a good read on the team overall. This provided the Grizzlies with valuable information that they needed going into the offseason with 2 first round picks and a substantial amount of cap space.
The Water Crests: Draft Night 2008
When Chris Wallace made the two trades on draft night, netting O.J. Mayo and Darrell Arthur, the organization did everything in its power to restore hope to a fanbase desperate for a reason to continue believing in this team. Rather than taking the "safe approach" of drafting Kevin Love and Chris Douglas-Roberts, he took a chance on greater potential, which netted him Mayo and Arthur. At this point, the water has reached maximum stored energy. Now the team is left to release that energy upon the rest of the league.
The Tsunami: Playoff Success
I don't expect it to happen overnight -- or even in the next 2 seasons -- but I do expect it to happen sooner than many might have considered. With another good draft and a smart signing or two, the Grizzlies could release all that stored energy and potential upon the league with the same fury that the Hornets displayed this postseason, making it all the way to the Western Conference Finals. I look to what New Orleans and Portland have been able to do by collecting young talent in the draft and making timely signings of solid veterans, while not grossly overpaying for glorified role players. This is the model that Memphis should be adhering to, as they implement their plan to return to the playoffs, not just as a mere participant, but as a team to be reckoned with -- a team that other teams do not want to face in the first round. At that point, they will be an unstoppable force. They will have achieved tsunami status.