Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mike Conley's Trade Value

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2009 at 7:46 PM

On the "Keeping Rubio" post, one commenter questioned my sobriety for suggesting the Grizzlies might be able to deal Mike Conley in a package that nets a lottery pick in this year's draft. I started to respond in the comments but realized it would be comically long for that space, so instead I'll respond in a separate post here:

It remains to be seen whether a team would deal a lottery pick for Conley, but it would be stupid if no-one would. Last season, after the coaching change, when the reins were lifted and Conley was allowed to really play, he closed the season on a three-month run in which he essentially averaged 15 points, 4 boards, 6 assists, and close to 2 steals a game while shooting 44/40/80. This was as a 20-year-old, second-year point guard who'd missed half his rookie year. That's really good production from someone of Conley's experience level and position. This is also someone who was a #4 pick just two years ago and one of the two best players on a team that went to the national title game in a good year for college basketball.

People like to think that "lottery pick" = "star" and assume that Tyreke Evans and DeMar DeRozan and Jordan Hill and Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings, etc. are all going to be big-time pros, but the reality is that some of them will and some of them won't. Even in good drafts, lots of lottery picks turn out to be marginal NBA players or worse. Just this week, Chris Vernon was pointing out on his radio show that of players drafted 6-9 since 2000 exactly ONE has made an All-Star team.

So, if you need a point guard and have a pick, say, in the 6-12 range of what is considered probably the worst draft since 2000, you'd be crazy not to consider exchanging that pick in a deal for Conley, who has proven that he's a quality NBA player and still has plenty of room to get better. Anyone drafted in the mid-to-late lottery in this draft brings considerable risk. Conley is a known quantity.

Now, for those of you out there who don't think Conley is a quality pro, I don't know what to tell you. Either you stopped paying close attention after the calendar flipped to 2009 (which apparently was the case with most of the local media) or you've been brainwashed.

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