The Utah Jazz made massive strides by trading for veteran point guard Mike Conley. But there’s still work to be done if they want to become true title contenders.
The blockbuster splash that Utah Jazz fans have been waiting for finally happened. Though it was somewhat foreseen, the announcement still came as a shocking surprise when it was revealed on Wednesday that the Jazz had traded for Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, sending away Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, Grayson Allen and a pair of first-round picks in the process.
In so doing, the Jazz made themselves a significantly better team. No disrespect to Ricky Rubio, but the Jazz fan detractors of the trade out there likely don’t understand just how good Mike Conley is and how much of an upgrade he is over Rubio. Setting the mere numbers to one side (which are strongly in Conley’s favor as well, I should mention), Conley is a grittier defender, a more prolific offensive threat with an expansive repertoire, a solid shooter from all ranges and a grizzled veteran with an extensive playoff acumen.
In other words, despite what some uninformed naysayers may try to spout, the addition of Mike Conley absolutely makes the Jazz a legit squad. Adding him to the mix not only gives the Jazz a third star-caliber player to pair alongside Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, but it gives them a second playmaker in the backcourt who can beat opponents off the dribble, get into the paint and break down opposing defenses, all while being a significant scoring and passing threat from anywhere on the floor.
Oftentimes, we’d see opposing teams leave Ricky Rubio wide open on the perimeter, just daring him to shoot the ball. Sometimes he’d make them pay, but that occurring was few and far between. With Conley, though, teams likely won’t even give him that kind of opportunity which will open up the floor extensively. And if they do, he’s almost certain to make them suffer for such a careless mistake.
So with Mike Conley in the mix filling so many voids the Jazz have had the past few seasons, there’s no denying that Utah has the potential to become a title contending team. Yes, Jazz fans, he’s that good, his fit is that seamless in Quin Snyder’s system, and he should have that great an impact.
However, the Jazz are not there yet, and I don’t just mean because the season hasn’t started. They’re not there because they are still lacking a few things and have much to prove once the 2019-20 campaign does get underway before we can officially declare them as in the championship contending mix.
But Conley at least gives them their first realistic shot since the Deron Williams days, and maybe if we’re being honest with ourselves, since the John Stockton and Karl Malone days. In order for it to actually become a reality, though, the following five things will also have to occur seamlessly in conjunction with this blockbuster Conley trade.