Mike Conley did not come into the NBA ready to be a superstar for the Memphis Grizzlies. Sure, he was a high draft pick, and was considered a pretty good point guard prospect with potential coming out of Ohio State, but Conley never screamed “take-over player.” Rather, Conley was drafted high due to the belief at the time that he could be a sure thing in this league: a speedy guard who could control the tempo of the game and play at both ends of the floor.
Conley was not projected to be one of the absolute best point guards in the league, but rather just a solid player who could be a starter on a contending team. That role compared to one of a superstar is a huge difference, but it did not matter to Conley, as he has still developed into one of the more all-around point guards in the league and should be considered a top ten point guard right now.
So what makes Conley so good? The answer was actually mentioned above: he is a two-way player.
Offensively, Conley possesses great speed and penetration skills in order to get himself in the lane and either score or create for his teammates. Conley can take his man off the dribble and create separation or lose him with a few quick moves. Conley has great court vision and plays the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop very well with his teammate Marc Gasol. Conley is a matured offensive guard, but he could still become a more proficient shooter from three point range.
Where Conley really makes his money, however, is on defense.
Conley is a bulldog on that end of the floor, able to disrupt the flow of an offense with his individual and help defense, as well as his quick reflexes to be able to get into passing lanes and create deflections and steal opportunities. Conley is not the average guard on defense, as he is relentless and will give all of his effort on that end of the floor if he has to. Conley has the speed and footwork to be able to keep up with any point or shooting guard in the NBA, and that is something that the Grizzlies rely on very much, both in the regular season and in the playoffs.
Not many point guards can have such an impact on both ends of the floor like Conley does. In fact, at times it is hard to name nine point guards that are truly better all-around players than Conley. Conley deserves respect and recognition, and with another deep run with the Grizzlies, he could really get a lot of it during this upcoming season.