It looks like Mike Conley is going to play for the Utah Jazz after all.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Memphis Grizzlies have agreed to trade Conley to the Jazz for Grayson Allen, Kyle Korver and Jae Crowder. The Grizzlies will also receive the 23rd pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, plus a protected 2020 first-round pick, in the deal.
The trade is expected to be completed on July 6, Wojnarowski added.
Memphis has traded guard Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz for Grayson Allen, Kyle Korver and Jae Crowder, the 23rd pick in Thursday's Draft and a future first-round pick, league sources tell ESPN.- Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 19, 2019
Conley has the potential to take the Jazz to another level, putting them in position to compete with the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors at the top of the Western Conference next season, and possibly a title.
Conley fills a huge need on offence
It became abundantly clear last season that the Jazz are in need of another playmaker to pair Donovan Mitchell in the backcourt. Joe Ingles is a crafty pick-and-roll player, as is Ricky Rubio, but both of them have a pass-first mentality and struggle to create consistent offence for themselves.
Trading for Conley solves most of - if not all of - that problem.
Conley isn't the same level of scorer as a Damian Lillard or Kemba Walker, but he's coming off of a season in which he averaged a career-best 21.1 points per game. He generated almost half of his offence as the ball handler pick-and-rolls, where he ranked in the 81st percentile with 0.96 points per possession.
Conley ranked equally as high in previous seasons as well - the 88th percentile in 2017-18, the 92nd percentile in 2016-17 and the 73rd percentile in 2015-16.
Ingles and Rubio, for comparison, both ranked in the bottom half of the league in pick-and-roll efficiency last season. Additionally, they combined to score less points on those plays in 150 games (514) than Conley did in 70 games (566).
What makes Conley one of the league's pick-and-roll scorers is he's a legitimate three-level scorer. He's comfortable pulling up from both the 3-point line and midrange, and he has one of the best floaters in the NBA, which helps him get his shot off against taller defenders in the paint.
Conley is even capable of creating his own shot in isolation, a skill that comes in handy when plays break down and against switch-heavy teams.
Conley, however, doesn't need the ball in his hands to be an effective player. According to NBA.com, almost a fifth of his shot attempts last season were catch-and-shoot, the bulk of which came from the perimeter. He knocked down 39.8 percent of those 3-point opportunities, a similar rate as Kyle Lowry, Paul George and Tobias Harris, albeit on fewer attempts per game.
That's important considering Mitchell is one of the higher usage guards in the league. He won't have to carry as big of a load with Conley on the team, but he will still be the team's primary playmaker. Surrounding him with players who can space the floor is therefore of the utmost importance, as it should simplify his options as a scorer and facilitator.
Mitchell now has at least two in Conley and Ingles, and potentially three depending on who the Jazz bring back or sign to start at power forward next season.
Conley should benefit from that spacing, too. It might be an adjustment going from playing almost his entire career next to a stretch big in Marc Gasol to Rudy Gobert, who does almost all of his scoring in the restricted area, but the Jazz should have enough spacing depending around them at other positions.
While he's never averaged more than 6.5 assists per game in a single season, Conley is a solid passer who is among the league's best at taking care of the ball.
Conley is a perfect fit on defence
Conley fits just as well with the Jazz on the other end of the court.
Although he's only made an All-Defensive Team once in his career, Conley has long been considered one of the best defenders at his position. He's also been a part of defensive-minded teams in the past, having started at point on the "Grit 'N Grind" Grizzlies.
With Conley now on board, the Jazz have the potential to be the best defensive team in the league again. They had the best defensive rating in 2017-18, but the Milwaukee Bucks took over the top spot this past season, bumping them to second.
At the very least, the Jazz shouldn't lose anything defensively from replacing Ricky Rubio with Conley. With how much of an upgrade he is offensively, the Jazz now have the makings of a dominant offensive and defensive team.
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