Heel Injury Nearly Prevented Memphis Grizzlies’ Mike Conley from Returning to Top-30 Status

The most underrated aspect surrounding the Memphis Grizzlies’ Mike Conley is his return to All-Star-caliber form following a significant heel injury in the previous season.

On Monday, HoopsHype released their top-30 rankings of NBA players with an age of 30 or older for the 2018-19 NBA season. When considering the Memphis Grizzlies‘ roster, Mike Conley immediately comes to mind.

Now in his 12th professional season all spent as a member of the Grizzlies organization, Conley has made a name for himself as one of the league’s most efficient point guards on both ends of the floor. He has become Mr. Reliable, even after missing 70 games in the 2017-18 season.

Playing in only 12 games for Memphis last season, looking back, it was an incredibly smart decision by the Grizzlies to shut down their starting point guard. The executive decision allowed Mike Conley to return to 100% full health. The lingering heel injury was no more to begin the current season.

As Conley is boasting season averages of 20.0 points on 42.6% field goal shooting (including 34.8% from deep), 3.4 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.6 steals, he is also enjoying his second-most efficient season through 58 games played.

Mike dodged a major bullet with last season’s injury. It could have spelled the end of his NBA career. Now at the age of 31, he is exiting his prime, but still offering a bountiful production line.

For the Memphis Grizzlies, it is disappointing in some ways to see Mike Conley play so well in 2018-19. No. 11 has gone yet another season without being named an NBA All-Star — one accomplishment that alludes him to this date. Plus, the Grizzlies quickly spiraled out of control — now 23-38 entering Monday’s matchup versus the Los Angeles Lakers — after being atop the Western Conference to begin the season.

Disregarding All-Star accolades and season record, Mike Conley demonstrates prominence in the NBA, especially when considering all players past the age of 30. HoopsHype wound up ranking “Captain Clutch” sixth overall, ahead of names such as DeAndre Jordan, Al Horford, Kyle Lowry, and Chris Paul.

Aside from Lowry and Paul, other point guards he has outplayed this season include Goran Dragic, Derrick Rose, Jeff Teague, and Rajon Rondo. These are players that all have been named to at least one NBA All-Star Game, which is infuriating when you think about the lack of respect Mike Conley has received from the league.

Still, the most satisfying aspect of HoopsHype’s rankings is that Mike is able to produce at a high level once again. Plus, he is right back to being the underdog at the point guard position. Even better is that he is providing bang for the Memphis Grizzlies’ bucks they are tossing at him. They cannot say the same of their other max contract player.

Only five players in the NBA over the age of 30 have performed better than Conley in 2018-19. The list is agreeable as it includes LaMarcus Aldridge, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant.

Overall, you cannot argue that Mike Conley is overrated on this list. Also, he follows some very elite talent with these five particular names placed ahead of him. Honestly, this is the type of respect Mike Conley has deserved for awhile, and the “age 30 and above” stat does not really matter. Mike has always been legit, and this season, he has confirmed this to another extent.

This makes you wonder what would his 2018-19 season be like if he did not have such a successful recovery? What if the Memphis Grizzlies would not have granted him to take most of last season off to heal properly? Chances are, he would not be the player he has been this season for the Grizz. Additionally, they have set him up for much success in future years as he plays out his prime playing days.

Though the Grizzlies are stuck in a rut and will miss the NBA Playoffs this season, it is a lot of fun to watch Mike Conley tearing it up on both ends of the floor. He remains the franchise’s conductor on both ends of the court. Plus, he is a Grizzly for life. In the Grindhouse, his legend continues to develop.

On a side note, for those long-time Memphis Grizzlies fans, our beloved Marc Gasol also ranked high on HoopsHype’s list — No. 11 overall.