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Did the Hawks use too much draft capital to acquire their 2019 draft picks? Why Cam Reddish might be the swing prospect in the Hawks rebuild. The Jazz added more offensive playmakers, how might that impact their defensive performance? Why Quin Snyder is the perfect coach to help Donovan Mitchell through his expected role adjustment.

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Blhite passe au crible l’intersaison du JAZZ.
Avec les arrivées de Mike Conley et Bojan Boddanovic, l’été a été riche en acquisitions du côté d’Utah.

Tentative de projection et d’évaluation de niveau de cette future équipe 2019-2020 du Utah JAZZ.

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Mike Conley has proven to be recruiter team has dreamed of

Jared Woodcox , 2019-07-27 14:21:43
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Mike Conley has done an exceptional job as a recruiter for the Utah Jazz, as his influence was key in the team landing free agents this summer.

The Utah Jazz have never been thought of as a free agent destination. Between a small market size, it’s widely unfamiliar location and some stigmas about the area – most of them unfair or unheralded – several factors have prevented the team from being able to be a major player in luring summer talent.

But that wasn’t about to stop the likes of Dennis Lindsey, Quin Snyder and the rest of Jazz brass from working hard to change that perception and the organization’s fortune. For years, the team has worked relentlessly to alter their culture to a degree that other players would find them appealing and want to join their ranks.

One of the first major dominoes that fell showing a change in the winds was the acquisition of Joe Johnson in 2016. Despite the fact that he was at the tail end of his career, he was still a reputed All-Star and easily one of the most high-profile free agents the Jazz had ever landed. But when Gordon Hayward left – a stark reminder that the Jazz struggle to lure or keep talent – it seemed as if perhaps all their work had been for naught.

But then came the emergence of Donovan Mitchell. His rise from late lottery pick to blooming star was monumental for the Jazz in so many ways. Of course, the majority of those came on the court where his play helped the team remain a winner and gave them a promising player to build around to ideally put the team in a solid place moving forward.

But beyond that, Mitchell was a likable star with an enjoyable personality that quickly made him popular around the league. Before long, he was hugging it up with big-name stars after nearly every game and soon relating stories about fellow friends around the league and sharing jabs with them on social media. Amidst this burst of popularity, a new hope emerged in Mitchell — perhaps he could be the team’s player recruiter that could finally help bring talent to the Jazz.

He talked about doing as much in his first NBA offseason, claiming in a podcast with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that he planned on chatting with Paul George about that very topic. Of course, whatever conversations may have taken place between the two ultimately didn’t come to fruition as George agreed to stay in Oklahoma City, only to one year later request a trade and find himself dealt to the LA Clippers who have become the favorite in the West and potentially one of Utah’s greatest nemeses.

But the idea was still there and the hope for Mitchell’s ability to continue to lure talent into the mix remained strong. We’ve seen several players do it before to enhance their team, and it was only feasible that the charismatic Mitchell could be the one to turn that tide in Utah.

Such may be the case in the very near future. And it’s entirely possible that Mitchell already has played an enormous role in helping lure the players that signed this summer into the mix. However, in regards to who has been Utah’s major recruiter this summer, all signs point to Mike Conley taking over – and thriving in – that role.

The Jazz traded for Mike Conley well before the start of free agency, sending away Jae Crowder, Grayson Allen, Kyle Korver and picks to up-level their point guard position in a big way. He was sure to instantly improve the Jazz in terms of talent, but the Jazz might not have known how much he would impact the team from a recruitment standpoint.

As much as the Jazz organization has hoped that Mitchell could turn into their player recruiter – and he very well could and still will – it appears that for now that role has been solidly filled by Mike Conley.

Tony Jones of The Athletic (paid subscription required) first reported that Jeff Green largely joined the Jazz due to a relationship with former teammate Mike Conley. That sentiment was reaffirmed in a recent introductory press conference where Green had the following to say:

“It’s just a friendship that’s been going since my time in Memphis. He’s a good guy. He’s somebody who’s going to be there for you and always lend a helping hand. That’s a good friend and a good teammate.”

The Deseret News article from which that quote was pulled also mentioned that the wives of Green and Conley are good friends and have children the same age, further motivating the union. Ed Davis also noted that the chance to play with Conley, who he also formerly played with on the Memphis Grizzlies, was an enormous factor. He added,

“There’s no ego, he’s just a good person all the way around. He’ll come in every day and there’s no bulls— with him. You can’t do nothing but respect that. He definitely gave me the confidence that this team was ready, so that helped out a lot for me. He’s one of the reasons why I made my decision so quick.”

Both apparently conferred with Conley prior to joining up with Utah. And while both cited other reasons that they were excited to join the Jazz such as the steadiness of the organization, the chance to play with Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, and an opportunity to legitimately compete for a championship with a well-rounded team, even those likely wouldn’t have been enough without the persuasion of Conley.

He was able to instill confidence in both of them that choosing the Jazz, in spite of any lingering stigmas they might have heard about it, was going to be well worth it. And, well, playing with him would be the icing on the cake.

To that point, Green further gave Conley high marks by stating:

“He’s a guy who fights for his team, loves his team, supports his teammates,” Green said. “A guy with no ego who’s gonna play hard every night and try to win.”

Green and Davis aren’t the only ones that were impacted by Conley before joining the Jazz ranks. Bojan Bogdanovic, by far Utah’s biggest acquisition of the summer and arguably their best ever, mentioned that the chance to play alongside Conley was a key motivator in his decision. In a recent sit down with UtahJazz.com’s Aaron Falk, Emmanuel Mudiay had the same message, mentioning that Conley reached out to him and instilled him with further interest to join a Jazz team with its sights set firmly on a championship.

In other words, Conley is already showing just why he was named the NBA’s Teammate of the Year last season. He’s proving his worth in full force before even having suited up for a single game with the Jazz. Each of the Jazz newcomers has wanted to play with Conley. His fingerprints are already all over this roster as he continues to be a stand-up guy and an exceptional teammate that players want to join forces with.

In so doing, he’s surprisingly become the team’s main recruiter – a role many presumed would be held by Donovan Mitchell, but instead has been taken over by the savvy veteran point guard. Fortunately, I don’t think anyone’s complaining about him stealing the job from Mitchell. After all, he’s done a tremendous job.

And perhaps Mitchell will learn a thing or two from Conley, both on the basketball court and in the recruiting sphere. Either way, Conley’s addition has directly helped the Jazz add more talent and should make them a dangerous team for the foreseeable future. His ability to recruit has made the Jazz significantly better this summer and, who knows, could potentially elevate the team to a new level where their free agent struggles dissipate forever.

Next: Utah Jazz: One eye-opening stat from each major free agent signee

This offseason has been monumental for the Jazz in so many ways. They attracted impactful free agents. They put together a roster that appears ready to compete in a championship. They’ve started to knock down the long-held ideas that Utah isn’t a destination for meaningful players.

And on top of it all, perhaps unexpectedly, they added a magnificent recruiter in Mike Conley. A guy that other players want to play with and who can convince top players to come join the Teammate of the Year. Even before Conley has played a single game in a Utah Jazz uniform, he’s already proving just how valuable he’s going to be.

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Mike Conley praises SLC, wants to win the right way

Jared Woodcox , 2019-07-20 03:31:32
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Mike Conley knows he has a great opportunity with the Utah Jazz and, perhaps most importantly, realizes how meaningful it would be to bring a championship to Salt Lake City.

In a league that’s become all too closely associated with teaming up with star players and forming super teams, for those of us who lean towards supporting the underdog, the 2019-20 NBA season looks like it finally might provide a bit of a breath of fresh air. While there are undoubtedly several daunting teams and some incredible dynamic duos, there’s no lone clear cut favorite as several teams appear poised to compete for a championship.

Among those teams is the upstart Utah Jazz, a perennial small market underdog that has a reputation for fielding a good team, but not one that can truly compete at the highest level. Other such small market teams that may find themselves in that mix this season are the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers who were both prolific a season ago.

But Utah could very well have the edge over their small market competition and find themselves in the same tier as the behemoth LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers who boast some of the league’s best players in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the former and LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the latter. The Jazz got significantly better this offseason, and one principal way they did so was by adding point guard extraordinaire Mike Conley to their ranks.

Conley has consistently been one of the best point guards in the game and is arguably the best active NBA veteran to have never appeared in an All-Star Game. Flying under the radar in Memphis hurt his prospects in that regard, but his talent most definitely isn’t lacking.

And ever since Conley learned that he would be joining the Jazz, he’s been nothing but upbeat and optimistic. Clearly he sees just how high this team’s ceiling can be and how much potential they hold, and he’s excited to be a part of it.

In fact, in a recent article from J. Michael of the Indy Star describing the current situation for small market teams, he gathered some highly meaningful quotes from Mike Conley regarding how he feels about his new team and opportunity. In comparing SLC to other markets, the Jazz point guard had the following to say:

“You have cities like Miami or L.A., New York, big-time markets. There’s a lot of growth that guys see. There’s a lot of things outside of basketball that guys see that can entice them. I didn’t know anything about Salt Lake City. It’s an unbelievable city. It’s an unbelievable place to be. Guys don’t get to spend time in these areas and communities to realize how good the opportunity would be if they went there.”

Man, that’s got to be music to Jazz fans’ ears. Not only is Conley praising the often overlooked and underappreciated Salt Lake City, but he realizes the opportunity he has to make a difference in such a community, even if it is a smaller one than many players might prefer.

But as if that wasn’t already enough, Conley added another bit of great insight that should excite Jazz fans even further. When asked about the tougher path that small market teams have to follow, here was his response:

“You’ve got to do the right things through the draft. It makes it a little bit of a harder road, but also I think it would be more enjoyable to ultimately win a ring in a place you have to work so hard for it.”

In an era where players have been more prone to seek out the easy way to a championship (looking at you Kevin Durant) rather than working through trials and building something special and meaningful albeit in a perhaps difficult situation, Conley’s point of view is a breath of fresh air.

Today’s society is predicated on instant gratification, handouts and taking the easy way out. Lost in that mindset is an attitude of working hard to defy the odds and experiencing the joy that comes from overcoming those obstacles with diligence and integrity. But Conley is one of the rare few who still gets it. He knows that the harder the journey and the more daunting the path, the greater the reward will be.

In other words, he wants to win a championship, but he wants to win it the right way. He wants that enjoyment that will come from taking an under-appreciated and overlooked team all the way to the top of the ladder in spite of all the challenges that surround them.

Fortunately, the Jazz have put themselves in about as ideal of a situation to do so as they could have. They have a loaded and well-rounded roster with great shooting around defensive star Rudy Gobert and budding star Donovan Mitchell. They’ve added an experienced floor general in Mike Conley and a sharpshooter extraordinaire in Bojan Bogdanovic.

They’ve played their chips just right to bounce back majestically from the Gordon Hayward fiasco of a few summers back. And now they, with Conley leading the charge, have a chance to raise their small market squad to the ultimately glory.

It’s hard to imagine a joy that will be greater than that for the team and the Salt Lake City faithful. Winning a championship in Utah is something that to this day many would say is impossible. The players likely recognize that general sentiment as well, which is why winning it all would be so rewarding, as Conley pointed out.

Next: Rudy Gobert will be the key for the Utah Jazz to outmatch the LA Clippers

Mike Conley knows how special this next season could be with the Jazz and he’s excited to get underway in a new city in which he’s making the absolute best of his opportunity. His viewpoint thus far should have his teammates and fans totally thrilled with the exciting season that lies ahead.

Can it be October already?

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New/old Mike Conley changes everything for the Utah Jazz

Ryan Aston , 2019-07-09 15:39:16
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Point guard Mike Conley could reach new heights with the Utah Jazz, who will be a contender next season in spite of the other blockbuster moves in the West.

On Monday, the Utah Jazz officially introduced their two biggest offseason acquisitions — Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic — at a press conference in Las Vegas. By and large, it was standard fare for an intro presser; both players thanked the organization, halfheartedly expressed their excitement, yada yada yada.

And yet, it felt different from when the team has introduced new guys in recent years. Even in a familiar situation, there’s a different vibe about the Jazz band; an unmistakable air of optimism.

Things are different now. In spite of the blockbuster moves made around the Western Conference, i.e. Kawhi and PG-13 to the Clips, AD joining LeBron in La-La Land, the Jazz are a legitimate contender for the first time in at least a decade. Maybe more.

Conley is the reason why.

After the presser, the former Grizzlies the floor general joked about switching jersey numbers; his No. 11 will stay in Memphis where it will be retired. In turn, the same number will continue to be worn by Dante Exum in Utah, “I approached him immediately to let him know I was going to change my number,” said Conley.

And while Conley is 32 now and we’re all well familiarized with what he does on the basketball court at this point, the change in team and change in number are symbolic of the change Conley will see as a player in his new digs.

Same old Conley? Sure, but an entirely new one at the same time. And that guy is going to get this Jazz squad lit.

Next season, Conley will be playing in an system that should elevate him offensively. Quin Snyder’s offensive scheme generated more wide open looks for the Jazz than any other team in the Association enjoyed last season. And Conley was a 43-percent wide-open 3-point shooter in his last year with the Grizz.

This isn’t lost on Conley; “I’ll have space like I’ve probably never seen before.”

He’ll also benefit from an entirely different brand of teammate. “Rudy [Gobert] is going to be a whole other animal,” he said, talking about the Jazz center’s elite skills as a roll man and finisher. Donovan Mitchell is a different animal, too, and is already the best backcourt player he’s ever partnered with before the two have even shared the court.

Bogdanovic is a big part of the equation as well. Without question, the Croatian sharpshooter is one of the best floor-spacers in the NBA. His presence on the perimeter will open things up for Conley and the rest of the Jazz substantially.

Between he and Ingles behind the arc, Gobert rim-rolling and Mitchell creating for himself and others all over the floor, opposing defenses will have to play the Jazz straight-up or suffer the consequences. That will leave Conley to shred his man with a pinpoint J or his famed off-hand floater on the regular.

Next: A look at Jeff Green, Emmanuel Mudiay joining the Utah Jazz

No one has ever talked about a Year 13 jump, but all the ingredients are there for Conley to make it a thing. All he as to do is stay healthy, which is probably the only big question about the Conley era of Jazz basketball.

If he can do it, we’re going to see some new tricks from the old dog and the Jazz will reach new heights as a result.

The same ol’ Jazz this definitely ain’t, and Conley is the reason why.

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The Mike Conley era in Utah will be defined by health

Jared Woodcox , 2019-06-26 04:36:25
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So long as Mike Conley stays healthy (and his injury history is far better than many presume), he should be in for an impressive stint with the Utah Jazz.

Despite turning 31 just prior to last season, Mike Conley had one of the best campaigns of his career. He appeared in all but 12 games, some of which he was held out of for mere resting purposes, meaning he enjoyed a very healthy season. He also posted a career-high 21.1 points per game on respectable shooting marks of 43.8 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from deep, all while being the best player on his team and the focal point of opposing teams night in and night out.

Conley was also a prolific assist man as he put up 6.4 dimes per game, the second best mark of his career, to go along with 1.3 steals per game while posting a positive plus/minus and net rating despite suiting up for a Memphis Grizzlies squad that struggled all year long.

However, the year before that was the exact opposite. Rather than play in all but 12 games, Conley only played for 12 games total as a left Achilles injury would require surgery and ultimately leave him out of action for nearly the entire season.

That was the worst injury issue that he has faced in his career in terms of keeping him out of action the longest, but it was far from the only one he’s dealt with. Throughout his career, Conley has missed time with various ailments including a heel injury, fractured vertebrae, and several others. Those woes led to him missing significant time in the 2016-17 season (13 games), 2015-16 season (26 games) and 2011-12 season (20 games).

However, excluding the 2017-18 season, where he underwent surgery, and his rookie season, Conley has actually been much more healthy than some seem to believe. He’s played in 70 games or more in seven seasons, with four of those featuring him in 80 or more games. He’s known as a tough and relentless player who has even played through discomfort to sacrifice for his team.

If we take away the unfortunate and anomalous ’17-18 campaign, 26 games is the most Conley has ever missed in a single year (excluding his rookie season where most games missed weren’t due to injury), which really isn’t bad at all in the grand scheme of things. And the durability he’s enjoyed in several other seasons is worthy of recognition.

Nevertheless, the fact that his most banged-up outing came so recently and that he’ll turn 32 prior to the start of this upcoming season is reason enough for Utah Jazz fans to be somewhat nervous about what to expect of him on his new squad. By all counts, he’s a perfect fit for the Jazz as an offensive and defensive ace, a prolific point guard and a maestro in the pick-and-roll.

However, Utah isn’t exactly known for its favorable injury history. Not to mention Father Time is undefeated. And although Conley had a superb 2018-19 outing, should any old issues surface or his age begin to creep up on him, it could be troublesome for both him and his newly joined Jazz team.

The good news is that Conley isn’t as old as the narrative seems to indicate sometimes, even by NBA standards. He’s only a few months younger than Stephen Curry, who no one seems worried about slowing down despite significant injury woes earlier in his NBA career. He’s also younger than point guards still viewed as stars including recent NBA Champion Kyle Lowry and the Houston Rockets’ Chris Paul.

In other words, a lot of the concern and doubt about Conley may very well be overblown. Then again, there is undoubtedly an injury history there, particularly from 2017-18. The truth is, Conley seems like such an ideal fit in every single way – from his style of play, to his personality, to his shooting ability, to his defense – that about the only thing that feels like it could get in the way of him thriving in Salt Lake City is if the injury bug rears its ugly head.

As such, I’m willing to go as far as to say that health will very likely define Mike Conley’s time with the Utah Jazz. He’s under contract for two more seasons, at the end of which he’ll be 33 years old. If he remains healthy, as he did in 2018-19, then I expect nothing but big numbers and bigger results out of him. I expect him to be a prolific star and the best point guard the Jazz have had since Deron Williams.

However, if Utah’s common misfortune on the injury front rears its ugly head again, then the two years of Conley could be left with a bit of a damper.

Fortunately, as I’ve pointed out quite clearly, I do believe the injury concerns about Conley are somewhat exaggerated (save for the fact that obviously he isn’t getting any younger). Eliminate his one outlier season, and he’s been able to play far more often than not, suiting up for over 80 percent of potential regular season games with the Grizz. Take his rookie season and unfortunate 2017-18 year out of the mix, and he’s suited up for over 88 percent.

That’s a great and very reassuring mark. Conley defined grit and grind during his time in Memphis, and he very likely will continue to play with that same mantra as a member of the Utah Jazz. His ability to stay healthy will greatly determine how his legacy winds up in Salt Lake City and if his body holds up, he has all the indications of being a spectacular fit.

If the past has taught us anything, it’s that Conley can indeed hold up. And if pesky injuries don’t surface to taint his legacy in Utah, then there’s no limit to what he can accomplish.

If it ends up as much, rather than being remembered as someone mired in injury, the Conley era in Utah could very well be remembered as one of the greatest in Jazz history. It could even be remembered as one that brought a championship to the Beehive State if everything goes according to play for him and his Utah Jazz squad.

Next: Utah Jazz: 15 realistic free agency options post-Conley trade

Mike Conley is such a great point guard, his fit in Utah is so spot-on and the Jazz are now so dangerous, that so long as injuries are left out of the equation, the next two seasons could be a real thrill for the Utah faithful.

Feeling excited, Utah Jazz fans? Because you should be. Luckily the start of the regular season is only a mere four months away.

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