Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies Point Guard
2015-2016 Regular Season Statistics (provided by basketball-reference.com)
|Points Per Game||15.3|
|Assists Per Game||6.1|
|Field Goal %||42.2|
|Three Point %||36.3|
|Turnovers Per Game||1.5|
|Win Shares Per 48 Minutes||.145|
Mike Conley had a season not up to his usual standard in several areas. He posted his lowest points per game in four seasons, as well as a career worst shooting performance percentage wise overall from the field. His shot chart from this season as compared to his 2014-2015 campaign shows his areas where he particularly struggled.
Conley 15-16 Shot Chart
Conley 14-15 Shot Chart
Better finishing at the rim, better from three (36.3% this season, 38.6% in 2014-2015), and just better all around in 2014-2015. Conley's defensive struggles were also clear, but more than likely connected to the overall regression of the Memphis Grizzlies at large on that end this season. Memphis was 19th in defensive efficiency this season at 105.4, which is worse than their 4th place finish in the same stat in 2014-2015 at 99.9. Of course, the injury to Marc Gasol (and his mediocre or worse play before the injury) impacted that pretty heavily, but Mike had issues keeping people in front of him/fighting over picks and screens at times this season, especially on the perimeter. Conley also had issues staying on the court, as he only played in 56 games in 2015-2016 due to injury, his lowest total since his rookie season.
It wasn't all dark clouds, doom, and gloom for Mike this past season though. He posted career bests in free throw rate per field goal attempt (.329), assist percentage (32.7), and turnover percentage (9.5%), meaning that he was more effective this season at getting to the charity stripe and creating for his teammates while protecting possessions for the offense than he has ever been. This helps to explain why his PER is still relatively high even though his shooting numbers were low - he was efficient in other areas that helped make up for his struggles putting the ball in the basket.
Best Game of the Season
November 16th, 2015, 122-114 win vs. Oklahoma City: 22 points, 9 assists, 0 turnovers, 8-13 shooting overall, 4-5 from three.
Worst Game of the Season
November 11th, 2015, 100-84 loss to Golden State: 4 points, 9 assists, 4 turnovers, 1-12 shooting overall, 0-4 from three.
Season Grade: C+
Mike showed some potential growth in his game this season as he protected the rock more often than not and had better control of the offense with regard to making opportunities for others and himself at the charity stripe. His shooting woes and durability questions damper this some though, especially considering he is depended upon to be a consistent scoring threat for this Grizzlies offense. His regression defensively since his 2nd team All-NBA Defense Team selection in 2012-2013 is also cause for concern.
Mike may be breaking out of this season's shooting slump in a different jersey next season. Conley's free agency this summer will surely be the biggest storyline for Memphis this offseason. His decision has the potential to send shock waves through the entire organization, and while it's expected (especially by this writer) that Mike will return, if he were to depart it would almost surely signify the end of the "Grit and Grind Era" and the beginning of a potential rebuild of the roster.
Memphis has been successful in the past re-signing their own key players. If they hope to remain competitive in the Western Conference next season and beyond, securing Mike Conley to a five-year contract (at not quite the max contract value) would be ideal. It may well take that max amount of money to keep his services in the Bluff City, however, and if that is the case the Grizzlies will have a difficult decision to make.
It will hopefully be a decision that results in doing what must be done to ensure that "Captain Clutch" remains in Memphis for the long term. If Mike leaves, it would mean both an almost certain downgrade at the point guard position and removal of the Grizzlies from the playoff picture in 2016-2017.