Nov 22, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley (11) drives to the basket against San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) during the fourth quarter at FedExForum. San Antonio Spurs beat the Memphis Grizzlies 102-86. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley's Progression

The 2013-14 season was not the Memphis Grizzlies‘ season, again. After a “failed” trip to the Western Conference playoffs and eventual first round out via a seven-game battle against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Grizzlies regrouped in the offseason and built around its core by keeping it close to untouched.

It’s impossible to start pointing out who’s responsible for the team’s “failure”. Of course, Zach Randolph‘s Game 7 suspension had a huge impact over the eventual outcome of the series.

Nevertheless, if we HAD TO blame something/someone, I would personally look (as everyone else should) at Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round, a.k.a.“The Reggie Jackson Game”.

Basic Box Score Stats
Starters MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% PTS +/-
Kevin Durant 49:17 5 21 .238 1 7 .143 4 6 .667 15 0
Russell Westbrook 44:26 6 24 .250 1 6 .167 2 2 1.000 15 +5
Reserves MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% PTS +/-
Reggie Jackson 37:22 11 16 .688 2 4 .500 8 8 1.000 32 +2
Team Totals 265 33 90 .367 8 28 .286 18 20 .900 92
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/15/2014.

Evidently, the Grizzlies failed to take advantage of Durant and Westbrook’s off-game and got burned by none other than Reggie Jackson, a three-year point guard that just had the best season, by far, of his young NBA career. Eventually the Grizzlies lost the series 4-3 and failed to reach the second-round of the Playoffs.

Once the season came to an end, the team’s capacities came into question. Do they have the talent needed to contend for a title in the West? They most certainly believe so.

But do they?

We’ve previously looked at Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol‘s ranks against the league’s elite at their position, they sure are among the best. Today we’re looking at Mike Conley‘s ability to match up against the top-tier point guards around the league.

During his current run with the Grizzlies, Conley has evolved into one of the best point guards in the league. Bleacher Report ranked him seventh in their 2013-14 Top 10 Point Guards Rank in the NBA surpassing Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Ty Lawson and four-time NBA champion point guard extraordinaire Tony Parker.

Let’s take a look at how Conley matches up against five of the top 10 point guards in the NBA:

Rk Player G MP FG% 3P% 2P% FT% AST STL TOV PTS
1 Mike Conley 73 33.5 .450 .361 .484 .815 6.0 1.5 2.1 17.2
2 Stephen Curry 78 36.5 .471 .424 .509 .885 8.5 1.6 3.8 24.0
3 Tony Parker 68 29.4 .499 .373 .509 .811 5.7 0.5 2.2 16.7
4 Chris Paul 62 35.0 .467 .368 .498 .855 10.7 2.5 2.3 19.1
5 John Wall 82 36.3 .433 .351 .458 .805 8.8 1.8 3.6 19.3
6 Russell Westbrook 46 30.7 .437 .318 .482 .826 6.9 1.9 3.8 21.8
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/15/2014.

As good as a point guard as he is, and even though he matches up quite well with the elite, it was not always this way. Mike Conley has come a long way since he was drafted by the Grizzlies with the fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft.

Conley came out of (The) Ohio State University as a .518/.304/.694 shooter averaging 11.3 points per game in his lone season as a Buckeye. A series of trades during his rookie and sophomore season (2007-08, 2008-09) gave him a chance to become the 2009-10 starting point guard for the team.

Season G GS MP FG% 3P% 2P% FT% AST STL TOV PTS
2007-08 53 46 26.1 .428 .330 .453 .732 4.2 0.8 1.7 9.4
2008-09 82 61 30.6 .442 .406 .458 .817 4.3 1.1 1.7 10.9
2009-10 80 80 32.1 .445 .387 .464 .743 5.3 1.4 2.1 12.0
2010-11 81 81 35.5 .444 .369 .466 .733 6.5 1.8 2.2 13.7
2011-12 62 61 35.1 .433 .377 .450 .861 6.5 2.2 2.0 12.7
2012-13 80 80 34.5 .440 .362 .476 .830 6.1 2.2 2.4 14.6
2013-14 73 73 33.5 .450 .361 .484 .815 6.0 1.5 2.1 17.2
Career 511 482 32.7 .442 .372 .466 .793 5.6 1.6 2.0 13.1
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/15/2014.

Showing continuous signs of improvement over the course of his seven year career with the Grizzlies, he’s already considered, year after year, a top 10 point guard in the toughest conference in the league (note: the Western Conference leads the league with 12 of the top 20 point guards in the NBA).

Not a small feat in a league that features stars like Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker.

BREAKING: Mike Conley and the Grizzlies are yet to look back.

Want more from Hoops Habit?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix.
Enter your email and stay in the know.

Tags: Memphis Grizzlies Mike Conley

comments powered by Disqus