Utah Jazz: Why the Mike Conley trade makes them title contenders

Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images /

After the Utah Jazz traded for Mike Conley Jr., they have pushed themselves from a middle of the pack team in the west to a serious title contender.

A couple of days before last Thursday’s 2019 Draft, the Utah Jazz finally completed a trade for Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley Jr., a point guard they have had their eye on reportedly for over a year or two.

In exchange for the coveted point guard, Utah sent Grayson Allen, Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, its 2019 first-round draft pick — which eventually turned into Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke following a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder to move up to pick No. 21 — and a protected future first-round pick to Memphis.

Although the Jazz appear to have given up a decent amount of talent and future assets to bring Conley to Salt Lake City, they are proving to the rest of the NBA that they are ready to take the next step in 2019-20.

After the acquisition of Conley to the roster, Utah has pushed itself from a team that has been in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference standings the last few seasons to a team that might be ready to make a serious run at an NBA title.

Conley jumps right into a starting five that could potentially be one of the more impressive starting lineups in the Western Conference in 2019-20. That’s saying a lot with how talented the Western Conference has been the last few years.

Since the Jazz were able to hang on to forward Derrick Favors, who was in rumors to possibly be involved in initial trade talks surrounding bringing Conley to Utah, the starting five for the Jazz will likely highlight Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Favors and Rudy Gobert.

That, of course, is if Utah decides it wants to pick up Favors’ team option worth about $16.9 million this season. If the Jazz do pick up that team option on Favors, they would have an impressive starting lineup that would once again return as one of the top defensive cores in the league.

Last year, even before the acquisition of Conley — who himself is a fairly solid player on the defensive end of the floor — Utah ranked second in the NBA in defensive rating (105.7) and fourth in the league in opponent points per game (106.5). The fact that the Jazz play in the west and were able to remain a top defensive team is impressive enough. But you add Conley to that rotation and it might get even better.

On the offensive end of the floor, Utah stuck around the middle of the pack during the regular season and was at a glaring disadvantage when it faced in its opening round loss to the Houston Rockets in the playoffs. The Jazz ranked 15th in offensive rating (110.9) and 17th in points per game (111.7) during this past regular season.

Subbing Conley in place of Ricky Rubio, who was fairly limited offensively, will immediately help Utah take the next step on the offensive end of the floor and could help open things up more for Mitchell and Ingles from deep and Favors and Gobert in the post.

Next. NBA Trade Grades: Jazz deal for Mike Conley. dark

The Jazz have already been a playoff team the last few seasons with the core the headed into the offseason with. Now, with the addition of Conley, this team has a chance to be a serious title contender for the next few years.