The Memphis Grizzlies were playing like one of the best teams in the NBA just a week or so ago, but have now lost two straight games and have dropped back down to the four-seed in the Western Conference.
The main factor in their struggles has been there offense, which has managed just 91.6 points per game over their last five contests and 82 points per game over their last two. They’ve managed to go 3-2 over that stretch, but have lost their last two games.
One of the reasons that their offense has been sputtering of late has been the play of starting point guard Mike Conley. Conley has actually been a big part of their success this season, particularly since the departure of Rudy Gay.
In the 21 games since the Gay trade, Conley has averaged 14.9 points and 7.1 assists per game, and has also been shooting 43 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from long range. He’s also averaged just 12.2 shot attempts, which is important.
Recently, though, Conley has been called on more often. In Memphis’ last five games, he’s averaged 13.8 shot attempts per game. His averages haven’t improved much at all with more shots, however, as he’s averaging just 15.4 points and 8.2 assists per game over that time. He’s also shooting with atrocious efficiency, posting a field goal percentage of just 39.1 and 3-point percentage of only 21.1.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Conley has taken even more shots and produced even less over the Grizzlies’ last two games. He’s averaged 15.5 shot attempts per game, but has also averaged just 12 points and 3.5 assists per game over the last two contests. Conley has also shot just 32.3 percent from the floor and 16.7 percent from 3-point range.
By no means does Conley need to completely disappear from the offensive system of the Grizzlies. In fact, he’s actually an integral part of why they’re successful on offense.
However, there is no way that he should be leading Memphis in shot attempts per game. He’s not efficient enough of a shooter to justify that. He’s at his most effective when he’s facilitating the frontcourt offense, and taking shots when they come to him in the flow of the game.
As the postseason nears for Memphis, they need to get back to the offense that made them effective. They are obviously a team that thrives off of their defense, but that they can’t struggle like they have on the offensive end recently. If they want to maintain solid position in the playoff race and succeed in said playoffs, they have to get back to what’s been working for them all season — which isn’t Conley taking 15 shots per game.