My first at post at 3SOB was dedicated to Mike Conley and his general underratedness. I made that case that Conley is not only a much better point guard than most people realize, but that he is the glue that holds the Grizzlies starting lineup together, doing all the little things that matter. When I made that post, I figured that it would be awhile before Conley got any national recognition. After all, a guy who puts up 13 and 6 a game just isn’t that interesting, no matter valuable he is to the team, right?
I was pleasantly surprised to see Conley recognized with a feature piece in this month’s issue of Slam, one of the biggest basketball magazines in the country. The piece talks about how far Conley has come in the past two seasons, proving many of his doubters wrong.
One of the central topics of the article is the contract Conley received in 2010 and how the basketball media reacted to it. At the time, Conley’s 5-year $45 million deal was viewed as a disastrous, exorbitant contract that would be viewed as one of the most egregious errors in Grizzlies history. After two solid years of Conley playing at a high level, that talk has died down. Even if Conley doesn’t get a great deal of hype, there does seem to be a growing consensus that he is a very valuable player.
Will he ever get the type of major hype that Rudy, Z-Bo, and Marc get? Probably not. And that may be for the best. Those players are all guys who have the potential to completely dominate any given game. Conley isn’t like that. He’s the facilitator, the one who gets everything going. The thing is, when any member of the Grizzlies’ big 3 takes off, chances are Conley played a big role in setting it in motion. He makes the key passes that lead to the big plays.
One of the most revealing quotes in the Slam article is when Conley says that “Me averaging 13 points a game is perfect for our team, and I understand that.” Conley accepts that his job is not to be star player, but to quietly run the offense and get the other players involved. This is key to the Grizzlies success. If Conley was trying to cast himself as the center of the attention, it would lead to collusion and frustration, and the team would be worse off for it. Conley understands his role in the offense, and the team thrives as a result.
Will Mike Conley ever become a household name? Maybe, if the Grizzlies make a serious playoff run. It’s likely that the serious hype will continue to go Rudy, Z-Bo, and Marc, but it was nice to see a major basketball magazine recognized the little things that make Conley such a valuable player.