Mike Conley, one of the most respected and underrated point guards in the NBA, is being shipped to the Utah Jazz. Shams Charania of The Athletic was the first to report the trade.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that in return, the Jazz have shipped last season’s first-round pick Grayson Allen, Kyle Korver Jae Crowder, the 23rd pick in tomorrow’s NBA Draft and a future first-round pick back to Memphis.
While the casual NBA fan may question why sending an older-than-30 guard to Utah can make a difference in the Western Conference, it’s easy to forget that the Jazz –who consistently boast one of the league’s best defenses — finished fifth in the West last season, with just the Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, and Golden States Warriors ahead them.
Given the injury woes of the Warriors and the combustibility of the Rockets, there’s no reason to believe this trade can’t make the Utah Jazz one of the top 3 teams in the Western Conference, which analysts predict to be wide open next season due to the apparent dethroning of Golden State.
Conley, still just 31-years-old (for reference, Steph Curry is also 31), put up the highest scoring output of his 12-year NBA career last season, averaging just a shade over 21 points per game.
One of the most underrated players in the league since he was drafted with the fourth overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Conley has earned a reputation for not only being a leader of men, but also being one of the smartest, toughest, and defensively sound players at his position.
With the Warriors seemingly falling back to the pack, the Rockets in shambles, and the Lakers as an unknown entity, the Jazz are seemingly taking a page out of Toronto’s playbook and going all in on a trade that they believe can net them a berth to the NBA Finals.
And as the Raptors just proved, once you’re actually in the Finals, anything can happen.