Mike Conley had a monster of an off-season. The highest contract in NBA history had his name on the dotted line. His beginning of the regular season was going pretty well too. A career high in 3-pointers, 46.7%. A career high in free throws taken and made. 5.1 trips to the line, 89.7%. 19.2 points per game which bested last year’s average by nearly four points.
His offensive rating was a career high 118. His defensive rating was its best in four years at 103. His 23.6 PER was a career high. So was his True Shooting Percentage (59.9%). Conley was responsible for 11.3 % of the Grizzlies defensive rebounds. His 33.9% assist percentage illustrates how important he is to the Grizzlies offense. In a similar way to Chris Paul, Conley organizes everything.
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Everything that Mike Conley is will remain on the self for 6-8 weeks as a cracked vertebrae (which sounds horrible), or officially, a traverse prcoess fracture in his back courtesy of game play versus the Hornets, has him in street clothes until 2017. It is a huge blow for the Grizzlies who are in the middle of the pack of the Western Conference and have proven that without Conley they are in trouble. They don’t have a replacement, an offensive magician, a clutch shot maker, a settle everyone down, I am in control player- and that only skims the surface of what Mike Conley brings to a team. His leadership is valuable.
Conley touches the ball 82 times a game. Chris Paul touches the ball 87 times a game. Like Paul, Conley is in control of all the actions. He puts everything in motion. The Grizzlies need Mike Conley.
Welcome to the NBA Andrew Harrison and Wade Baldwin.
But it is only 6-8 weeks. On the schedule, the Grizzlies will have the Raptors (road), Warriors (home), Cavaliers (home), Cavaliers (road), Thunder (home), Clippers (road), Warriors (road). When a player of Conley’s caliber is out, then the entire team has to band together and make it work but here is the beauty and the curse of NBA basketball. No one can do what the great players can do. That is why they are indispensable.
In the back of the mind there is this thought that Conley just can’t stay healthy. He missed the end of last season with an Achilles injury. Now the back. Injuries seem to come in bunches. His recovery will be the most important part of the Grizzlies season and Conley’s season too. He was on the brink of being an All-Star for the first time in his career.
Some players are good but are never lucky.
photo via llananba