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Eager Grizz a Poor Appraisal of Conley

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A Daily Babble Production

As the calendar turned from November to December, he was rumored to be heading to Portland as part of a deal to bring in Sergio Rodriguez and Travis Outlaw.  Now, the word is that he'll be going to Milwaukee, and the Grizz can hardly wait to get it done.  Mike Conley Jr.'s days in Memphis appear to be numbered.

According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Ronald Tillery, the Grizz are in talks with the Bucks about a proposed deal that would bring rookie Joe Alexander and second-year point guard Ramon Sessions to Memphis.  Tillery's report Thursday stated that the Grizz were ready to make the move but were waiting on the Bucks' agreement.

Less than two years ago, Mike Conley played an integral role on an NCAA national finalist.  As I watched a Celtics team whose point guard slot was filled most regularly by Sebastian Telair and Delonte West (and toward the end the rookie version of Rajon Rondo), Conley was also a pipe dream for me.  Now, his team is ecstatic about the idea of bringing in one rookie forward who can't crack 12 minutes per game for the Bucks and the guy who backs up Luke Ridnour, a point guard unproven save for a few bonkers statistical games when the Bucks were playing out the string a season ago.

As of this moment, it's my preference to hold tight to the belief that it is a bit early to judge any of three rumored-to-be-involved players too definitively, since each has yet to make it through year two in the Association.  But it's hard to deny that Conley has been disappointing.

Perhaps the biggest issue, as noted to me by longtime close friend and mentor The Babe, is the decline in the relative value of Conley's quickness.  At Ohio State, he was often the quickest guy on the floor.  He experienced more than his share of situations in which his man simply didn't have the foot speed to stay with him all game, thus making it easy for Conley to get in the lane and wreak havoc. 

That hasn't been the case in the pros.  Folks love to talk about how much quicker and stronger the competition is at the next level, and Conley has been living evidence of that thus far.  Watching him in person against a Nets team without Devin Harris last week, I saw a player who couldn't even break down Keyon Dooling.  It's been more of the same over the several times I've watched the Grizzlies on television this season.  Conley's speed doesn't set him apart at this level, which makes it difficult for him to get to the rim, where he is most dangerous. 

If Conley can't break down his own man, defenses don't have to adjust to him or send multiple players his way, which naturally lowers his ability to get teammates easy open looks.  Further, Conley becomes less dangerous as a scorer.  He is of course more effective taking lay-ups than shooting from the outside, and he becomes an even less threatening outside shooter when defenders don't have to give him space because of a fear of him making a dribble move to get to the bucket.

Mike Conley isn't shooting the ball efficiently (50.6 percent true shooting), isn't scoring at high volume (7.4 points in 24 minutes per game) and is leading an offense that is a shade more than one point per 100 possessions worse when he is on the floor than off it.  His 3.0 assists per game (4.3 per 36 minutes) aren't blowing anyone's doors off either.  Not all-time terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but far from overwhelming, especially for the guy picked fourth in the widely heralded 2007 draft.  That the Grizzlies have already had enough of him is just one more bad sign in a season full of negativity for the youngster from Ohio State.  Hope he finds a way to right the ship soon.