Should Mike Conley Be A Sixth Man?
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz have been rolling with a record of 15-4 without Mike Conley who was on the mend with his hamstring injury.
Conley is being eased back into the line up coming off the bench in his first two games back it has been a mixed bag with scoring 14 and three points.
With the Jazz winning so much without Conley, is there a case to have Conley be a $32 million sixth man?
ALSO: This is an insane lineup to close the quarter from Quin Snyder.
PG: Mike Conley
SG: Donovan Mitchell
SF: Jordan Clarkson
PF: Royce O'Neale
C: Tony Bradley
Conley, Clarkson and Bradley have never played together before.
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) January 19, 2020
The schedule has a lot to do with the Jazz playing so well. The vast majority of the teams being under .500, and to have a starter out does not make that much of a difference when you play bad teams. However, even when Conley was healthy and starting he was not living up to his past numbers with fewer points, assistants and his shooting percentage is down six points.
Next, consider Joe Ingles – who has been in the starting lineup and is averaging 14.2 points per game. That is double from his 7.6 per game he has averaged when not starting. Perhaps the Jazz should keep the status quo until it stops working.
Learning Curve With New Guys
KSL Unrivaled wonders how Conley will be utilized now that he is back in the lineup – whether it be off the bench or reinserted as a starter.
As of now the team is playing well and winning with him not playing, so why make any changes?
Head coach Quin Snyder explained how Conley could fit back into the lineup by experimenting. Another thing to consider is Jordan Clarkson who was acquired while Conley was out and fitting those two together adds another layer to this team.
“For us, with different guys with Mike coming back we will see some different lineups,” Snyder said. “As they get more comfortable playing with each other they will become more efficient.”
I think fans and media alike (myself included) definitely overthink things like Mike Conley returning and how he fits.
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) January 19, 2020
Snyder seems content in easing Conley back into the lineup and two games in it has been off the bench and it still has been working for the Jazz who are 2-0 in those games.
KSL Sports’ Scott Mitchell makes the point of Conley having a chance to assess the team while watching and sitting out, and doing that could really help him the second half of the year.
“Being able to step back is a great thing to be able to do. You don’t want to be injured but you see things from a different perspective,” Mitchell said. “Not having any pressure helps you get back into the game. A few years ago this team was in the same situation with Donovan Mitchell as a rookie and a lot of new faces. This was post-Gordon Hayward and the team was just, ‘ugh.'”
History is repeating itself with Conley, Clarkson, and Bojan Bogdanovic as the new guys and it just takes time to get comfortable and be instinctive over reactionary.
“I think it takes more than just 10 [games], I think it takes a good half of the season where you really start to feel each other out and get comfortable with everything that is going on,” Mitchel added. “Understanding the offensive sets, defensive changes and strategies takes time for guys to build that confidence.”
Time is on the team’s side as they are still contending for the best team in the West and this team is still working on becoming a cohesive unit.
Does It Matter If Conley Starts?
Missing half of the season to date for Conley and learning the tendencies of a new team means that the best of Conley is not being seen and who knows how close he is to see that potential.
The schedule for the Jazz gets more difficult as they start playing teams like the Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, and other West contenders.
— Mike Conley (@MCONLEY10) January 19, 2020
KSL Sports’ Alex Kirry points out that despite the Jazz still working on cohesiveness and even through a variety of lineups they are winning and contending. Experimenting with lineups over the next few weeks could and probably will result in losses but building a lead in the West is a good buffer.
“The Jazz are 10 games ahead of last year. It does make a difference to be at the top end of the Western Conference,” Kirry said. “You don’t want to have to climb into that four or five situations, but you want to be battling for that second spot. Give yourself a chance.
“With the schedule getting harder and Mike Conley returning there is going to be people saying, ‘is this the best version of them?’ Would you be willing to pay $33 million a year to have this guy be a really, really good sixth man?”
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