Memphis, Tennessee is in my blood. I love my hometown. It is one of two cities I have lived in during my 26 years on planet Earth. The other is where I live now, San Diego, California. The transition from the most beautiful land in the world to the most beautiful city in America has not been easy for several reasons.
First, the wings suck. I don’t care what any San Diegan says, the fenders are average at best. There’s a decent spot – scream Dirty Birds – but the San Diego wing scene can’t hold a candle to Memphis.
Second, there is no basketball culture. Of course, there are good open tracks through the city. But this town hasn’t had a basketball team since the San Diego Clippers left in 1984. So no, it’s not a basketball town. It is not a football city either, since the Chargers unfortunately gone. So what does San Diego have regarding a great sports team?
Baseball, and a very good team too. What does Memphis have? Basketball, and a very good team at that.
- small market
- Young stars
- Unexpected and accelerated success…
But before we get into the major difference, let’s further explain the similarities.
We know Memphis is a small NBA market, but let me be clear about San Diego. Although SD is a big city, it’s not a big baseball market – ranked 23rd in MLB in the size of the sports television market. The Padres are constantly treated like a little brother, eternally in the shadow of a gigantic sports market in Los Angeles. For Memphis, the blatant disrespect the city and the team are getting from the national media is ridiculous. If the Lakersbulls, Knicksor insert a big market team here had the young core of Memphis, this team would consistently be one of the biggest stories in the league.
Memphis to Ja Morant. He is the most electrifying player in the Association. But he is not alone. Desmond Bane looks like a true All-Star. Jaren Jackson Jr.’s ceiling is insane. The best part is that they are all 24 or younger.
San Diego has Juan Soto.
Although the former Washington National had his ups and downs with the Padres, there’s no denying his talent.
Juan Soto is 23 today. He has 485 career hits, 98 homers, 373 walks and 312 RBIs. Here’s a complete list of every player in MLB history to reach those totals before turning 23:
— Matt Weyrich (@ByMattWeyrich) October 25, 2021
The Padres also have the dynamic but enigmatic Fernando Tatis Jr. Look, there’s a lot of controversy surrounding Tatis and his closetebol steroid use which I do not feel the need to develop. San Diego can only hope he comes back healthy and performs at the same time remarkable level at which it was a year ago.
Either way, both players are under 24 and the rest of their careers await them.
Unexpected and Accelerated Success
Before the 2021-2022 NBA season, if you thought the Grizzlies would finish the season with the 2nd best record in the NBA, here’s how I would have answered. Cue the best of San Diego, Ron Burgundy.
Before 2022 MLB Playoffsif you thought the Padres were going to beat the 101 wins New York foodkill the dragon of the north by beating the best baseball team, the Los Angeles Dodgersand do the NLCS, I would have done my best Ron Burgundy impression yet again.
But everything happened.
The major difference
Memphis Grizzlies have all the assets needed for a splash trade. San Diego Padres had all assets.
5 young prospects, including 4 in the Top 100, and power hitter Luke Voit were included in the trade for Juan Soto and 1st baseman Josh Bell.
San Diego wouldn’t have made the NLCS without this trade. Yes, the Padres lost in 5 games to the Philadelphia Phillies, but reaching the NLCS should be celebrated, especially since the Padres haven’t done it since 1998. Not only the trade for Soto gave the Padres immediate success, San Diego will be legit too World Events contender for the next few years.
For the Grizzlies, Memphis has yet to cash in its chips. Zach Kram from The Ringer wrote a article analyzing the financial and preliminary commitments of each NBA team to come up with the NBA All Index. In its ranking, Memphis ranked 19th. Here’s what Zach said about the Grizzlies.
Even after extending base players — like Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke — Memphis is in a strong financial position and has an additional top pick (the Warriors’ first four proteges in 2024) on the way. Perhaps no team in the league is better suited for a consolidation trade in the coming years than the Grizzlies, as Morant, Jackson and Desmond Bane enter their primes and Memphis pushes for its first trip to the Finals. .
I couldn’t agree more. Memphis has the young talent, the mobile contracts and the draft picks to make a big trade.
But the key for the Grizzlies is patience for the right trade at the right time. While the Padres made the right trade at the right time for Juan Soto, San Diego was fortunate that a player of his caliber became available at such a young age. Imagine if Luka Doncic or Ja Morant were on the trading block. All hell would break loose. That’s exactly what happened with Juan Soto, and San Diego cashed in on an offer Washington couldn’t refuse.
While there isn’t a transcendent big name available in the NBA trade market right now, Memphis is the perfect place to trade for a disgruntled star or go all-in to win a championship.
It’s just a matter of when.