Conley's arrival in Utah didn't quite go as expected in 2019-20. He saw his minutes decline to their lowest mark (29.0 per game) since his rookie year. The veteran also came off the bench for the Jazz six times -- something he hadn't done at all in more than a decade. That said, both of those facts had a lot to do with the hamstring injury that knocked him out for most of December and half of January. Once Conley got back up to speed, he looked much like his normal self again. Still, no matter how you slice it, his 14.4 points and 4.4 assists per game represented a major drop from the prior year's 21.1 points (a career high) and 6.4 assists. Now 33 years old and with a checkered history of injuries, Conley carries plenty of risk for both fantasy managers and the Jazz, who are on the hook for his massive $34.5 million salary in 2020-21. He'll start at point guard as long as he can stay on the court, and a bounce-back of some sort is likely if he can stay healthy, but Conley can drag fantasy teams down with his unsteady field-goal percentages and his lack of statistical production outside of points, threes and assists.
After spending the first 12 years of his career in Memphis, Conley was traded to Utah over the summer in exchange for rebuilding pieces. Conley will bring in a much-needed veteran point guard presence to the Jazz, who were scraping by with Ricky Rubio, and coach Quin Snyder often put the ball into Donovan Mitchell's hands. Last season, Conley posted career highs in points (21.1) while playing at least 70 games for the first time since 2014-15. He also racked up nine outings with 30-plus points, including one 40-point game, plus 11 performances with double-digit assists and 10 games with at least three steals. But it seems likely Conley's role will be reduced in Utah, as he'll be playing with a more talented team that has won at least 50 games in two of the past three seasons. The situation is expected to result in fewer counting stats for Conley, but the 32-year-old could see good looks more consistently, which may boost his efficiency. Conley's new role and injury history are worth considering -- he's averaging 55.4 games played over the past five seasons -- but fantasy owners shouldn't be afraid to take a shot on the veteran, who has proven to be one of the better point guards in the NBA over the past half-decade.
Bleak as the Grizzlies' 2017-18 campaign was likely to be, it became an outright nightmare once Conley went down for the season after just 12 games due to a heel injury. He ultimately underwent surgery, and he remained limited to non-contact work as recently as late July. The veteran point guard's unfortunate turn of events came in the wake of a career-best season in 2016-17, one that saw him post new high-water marks in points (20.5), rebounds (3.5) and shooting percentage (46.0), including three-point shooting percentage (40.8). Assuming full health in time for the coming season, Conley will be helping fellow veterans Marc Gasol and Kyle Anderson shepherd a young group headlined by fourth overall pick Jaren Jackson. The struggles that Conley experienced offensively before his injury last season (career-low 38.1 percent) aren't expected to endure if Conley's track record is any indication, given that he'd shot under 43.0 percent only once in eight of the prior nine seasons.
Conley, at 29-years-old, had the best campaign of his career last season. Though he played just 69 games due to toe and eye injuries, the veteran posted a career-high 20.5 points, 6.3 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals across 33.2 minutes per game. He shot 46.0 percent from the field and hit 2.5 threes per contest at a 40.8 percent clip – all career highs as well. Conley was asked to pull more weight than usual within the Grizzlies’ offense, as the team wasn’t as strong as it had been in other seasons (finishing 43-39) and had Chandler Parsons for just 34 sub-par games as he dealt with injuries. The Memphis management made few waves over the summer to improve the team heading into next season, with the only notable signings being Tyreke Evans and Ben McLemore, hardly a consolation prize for the loss of long-time Grizzly, Zach Randolph, to the Kings. As a result, Conley will once again likely be called upon to have a career year to keep the team afloat. While we’ll have to wait and see if that ends up being the case, all signs point to Conley having a similar, or greater, role heading into next season as he did in 2016-17. The fact that he hasn’t played more than 73 games over the four seasons could be a cause for concern, but shouldn’t stop him from having upside as a top-10 Fantasy point guard.
While Conley has never made an All-Star team, he’s been among the most productive and reliable point guards in the league for the better part of the last decade. Conley may not be great in any one area, but he does everything well and shoots the ball at an efficient rate from the field, as well as from beyond the arc. Last season was a bit of an anomaly, as Conley joined seemingly the entire Grizzlies roster in dealing with health issues. An Achilles injury limited Conley to just 56 games, his fewest total since his rookie season of 2007-08. Hampered by the ailment for much of the year, Conley shot a career-low 42 percent from the field and saw his effective field-goal percentage drop to its lowest figure (47.8%) in five years. Conley still provided adequate assists (6.1 per game), rebounds (2.9) and steals (1.2) numbers, however, while holding onto his reputation as a premier defensive point guard. Assuming Conley is able to put the injury behind him, he should return to form this season as a strong all-around guard worthy of a mid-round selection in most fantasy leagues.
Conley contributed 15.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.2 blocks in 32 minutes per game during 70 regular season games. His per-game numbers weren't as gaudy as they were in 2013-14 when Marc Gasol missed over a quarter of the year with injury, but Conley played through injuries to his neck, lower back, right foot, and both wrists. The eight-year veteran guard also missed three playoff games after having surgery to repair multiple facial fractures. Still, he managed to shoot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point territory, and a career-high 86 percent from the line in the regular season. A model of consistency over the last several seasons, Conley will likely continue to be a reliable source of scoring and dishing so long as he's able to stay healthy.
Conley is entering his eighth season in the NBA. Last season, he averaged 17.2 points, 6.0 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 0.2 blocks in 34 minutes per game through 73 games. He shot 45 percent from the field on 14.1 attempts per game, 36 percent from downtown on 4.0 attempts per game, and 82 percent from the free-throw line on 3.8 attempts per game. Conley contributed career-highs in scoring, field-goal percentage, and player efficiency rating (20.07 PER, 28th best in NBA). His 14.1 field-goal attempts per game were also 2.3 more than any of his previous seasons. One department he did regress in was steals, as he contributed 2.2 steals per game in both 2011-12 and 2012-13, compared to the 1.5 steals he collected last season. Having not recorded more than 1.6 steals per game in a single month during 2014-15, it seems possible coach Dave Joerger may have asked Conley to avoid gambling defensively. Conley turns 27 years old in October, and coming off arguably his best season, it's possible that he'll be even better in 2014-15. He figures to continue in his current role as a key contributor for the Grizzlies along with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, and he makes for a fine fantasy play in all formats. Expect him to be taken during the first few rounds on draft-day regardless of what type of league it is.
The Grizzlies' outstanding frontcourt pairing of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph rightfully gets much of the credit for the team's success. But don't overlook the continued improvement of Mike Conley. Conley is coming off his best season as a professional, with averages of 14.6 points (a career high), 6.1 assists, a league-leading 172 steals (2.2 spg), while shooting 44 percent from the floor and 36 percent from three. And those numbers don't really tell the whole story – Conley actually became a much more important part of the offense after the trade that sent Rudy Gay to Toronto. He scored 16.4 points per game after the deal, and 17 ppg in the postseason. With the Grizzlies expected to start defense-first players Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince at shooting guard and small forward this season, look for Conley to solidify his position as the team's primary perimeter threat – and very possibly, to surpass Randolph as the second option on offense.
Conley ratcheted up the defensive intensity last season, notching 2.2 steals per game, good for second in the league. He wasn’t a stalwart offensively but was serviceable, scoring 12.7 points per game on 43.3 percent shooting to go along with 6.5 assists. Though athletically gifted, the undersized Conley has yet to be an impactful rebounder in the NBA, and he actually fell from 3.1 boards per game in 2010-11 to 2.6 in 2011-12. However, with big bodies Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol on the roster to pull down most wayward shot attempts, we can’t fault Conley too much for not producing better rebound numbers. Offensively, the signing of O.J. Mayo by the Mavericks in the offseason could liberate Conley in the backcourt, as he will most often be flanked at the two-guard spot by Tony Allen, a defense-first player who doesn’t need the ball in his hands as frequently. With Conley expected to command more control of the offense, his assist totals could climb a little, as could the amount of times he calls his own number. If that’s the case, he’d do well to attack the basket, as he shot a career-best 86.1 percent from the charity stripe last year. He’s also underrated as a marksman, making just under one three per game and shooting 37.9 percent from downtown for his career.
For the first time in his four-year career, Mike Conley really stepped up and earned the point guard spot in Memphis last season. Not coincidentally, Memphis reached the playoffs. Much of the credit for the Grizzlies’ breakout season rightfully goes to the frontcourt tandem of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, but Conley’s season – with career-best numbers in scoring, assists and steals – should not be overlooked. Of course, you might want to point that out to Memphis management; the Grizzlies selected combo guard Josh Selby in the first round of June’s draft. Selby was considered a lottery-level talent before arriving at Kansas, but a mediocre season there and concerns about his medical report caused him to drop into the second round – but he could be a steal there, and challenge Conley and/or O.J. Mayo for playing time at some point.
The Grizzlies would love for Conley to step up and eliminate any doubt as to his ability to run the team; thus far, that hasn't happened. The Grizzlies would also love for another player – say, shooting guard O.J. Mayo – to step up and win the job away from Conley. But that hasn't happened, either – in fact, Mayo's stint at the point at the Vegas Summer League was cover-your-eyes awful. In the absence of any other real options, the status quo will be preserved, with Conley holding on to the starting job, just barely. He did actually show signs of life late last season, averaging 16.0 points per game in March and 17.0 in April – perhaps that's a sign of things to come.
Conley arrived in Memphis in 2007 with all the hype usually attached to a fourth-overall pick. But his first season-plus in the NBA was a disappointment; his performance didn’t match his advance billing, and he struggled to win the point guard job outright. But Conley started to put it together during the second half of his sophomore season, thanks in part to the coaching philosophy espoused by Lionel Hollins. Under Marc Iavaroni, Conley looked to the bench on every possession as the coaching staff called out set plays. When Hollins took over, the Grizzlies went with a much more open approach, and Conley responded, averaging double-figures in scoring, over 5.5 assists, and a very healthy number of steals (2.4 per game in April). Assuming Memphis management continues to take a hands-off approach with Conley, he should continue to improve. That steal number is particularly encouraging – with shot-blocker Hasheem Thabeet patrolling the paint this season, Conley should be able to gamble more without getting burned.
The first half of Conley’s rookie season was a marred by injuries – chest, shoulder and rib problems allowed him to play in just six games before New Year’s… and just 53 overall. But when he finally got acclimated to the NBA, Conley started to show the potential that made him the fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft. The Grizzlies are hoping they got a preview of what’s to come from Conley during the last five games of 2007-08, when he averaged 16.8 points, 5.4 assists and more than five boards per game. The Grizzlies are expected to play up-tempo, which should suit the strengths of Conley, Rudy Gay and rookie O.J. Mayo, so look for a productive sophomore effort.
Conley is slated to start at point guard for a Memphis team that looks like they’ll be tough come the second half of the season. New coach Mark Iavaroni comes over from Phoenix and will install a similar offense used in the Valley of the Sun – as Steve Nash will tell you, that offense places a premium on point guard play. Conley has all the skills a team is looking for in a point guard except for a consistent jump shot. Once this team adjusts to the new system and the new mix of players, it could be dangerous. Conley may wind up splitting the minutes with Kyle Lowry, but the rookie is the man of the future for the Grizzlies.