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Season Review: Mike Conley, the real MVP

He may have only played 12 games this year, but Mike Conley is still this team’s MVP this year.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Check out previous entries in our Season in Review series here.

Mike Conley 2017-18 Season

Points Per Game Rebounds Assists Steals Field Goal % 3-point % Free Throw % PER
Points Per Game Rebounds Assists Steals Field Goal % 3-point % Free Throw % PER
17.1 2.3 4.1 1 38.1 31.2 80.3 15.4
basketball-reference.com

This year was supposed to be Mike Conley’s year. He even dubbed it as the “#yearof11.”

It was not the #yearof11, but let’s consider these numbers:

12- the number of games Conley played.

15- the number of games the Grizzlies won without Conley.

The Grizzlies looked like a bonafide playoff team with Mike Conley in the starting lineup, going 7-5 with their floor general. When he went down though, the team was absolutely abysmal. The offense lacked rhythm and flow. Marc Gasol didn't have anyone that could get him the ball in the right spot.

Overall, it wasn’t pretty for the Memphis Grizzlies. They had to rely on Andrew Harrison, Mario Chalmers and Kobi Simmons to battle against the stars in the league’s deepest position. As a result, the Grizzlies quickly fell out of the playoff picture.

Ultimately, we learned a valuable lesson this year: Mike Conley is the Memphis Grizzlies’ MVP. Without him, there’s dysfunction in the offense. There isn’t a calming presence to weather the storm. They didn’t have anyone to rely on in crucial clutch situations. In addition, he’s the type of point guard you need to be a playoff team.

After having a star-quality breakthrough in the 2017 playoffs, the “Year of 11” was supposed to spark the greatest individual season in franchise history. Instead, it was an absolute nightmare scenario for all parties involved.


Best Game:

Not a lot of games to choose from here for the “Conductor,” so let’s roll with opening night. Conley’s 27 points was a season-high all season, and you could felt super optimistic about this season.

After his performance, you couldn’t help but be hyped after the season opener. He looked and scored like a bonafide All-Star, carrying on his success from the prior postseason. Without Randolph’s scoring presence, nights like these from Conley seemed inevitable.

He was able to do pretty much whatever he wanted, as he weaseled his way into the paint and finished over the likes of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see more of these performances, because of that heel.


Worst Moment:

Was there anything worse than this? Missing 70 games due to injury isn’t fun at all.


Ways to Improve:

There aren’t a lot of things to critique here. Conley was active in only 12 games and was played hurt as well.

However, the main thing that caught my eye was assist numbers. This season, he only averaged a career-low 4.1 assists. Who averaged more assists than him:

Blake Griffin. Jarrett Jack. DeMar DeRozan. Lou Williams. Joe Ingles. Al Horford. Ish Smith.

I know he only played in 12 games, but you would think he’d averaged more than 4.1 assists, right? Yes, it’s also well-below his career average of 5.7, but he needs to be better at finding scoring opportunities for his teammates.

When you factor his age and the season-ending surgery, Conley might experience a decline in his speed and athleticism. Given this development, he should look to facilitate the basketball and get those assist numbers close to 7-8.


NBA: Detroit Pistons at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Overall Grade:

Is it even fair to give Mike Conley a grade this season? He played hurt for the first stint of the year and had to undergo continuous two-week evaluations before being deemed out for the season.

In addition, he had to sit on the bench and watch his team look lost and hopeless without him. It’s unfair to give someone to a harsh grade because of health. What are you going to do? Tell them to be more healthy?

Here’s to a strong comeback for the Conductor. His presence is vital for the Grizzlies’ bounce-back year next season.

Grade: INCOMPLETE

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