Memphis Grizzlies' Mike Conley Must Be More Consistent at Point Guard

A. Enslen ButlerContributor INovember 28, 2009

NEW YORK - JANUARY 23:  Mike Conley #11 of the Memphis Grizzlies dribbles the ball during the game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden January 23, 2009 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Knicks defeated the Grizzlies 108-88. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

It should not surprise Mike Conley that the Memphis Grizzlies' keep signing free agents who play one position: point guard.

You can debate the signings of Allen Iverson and Jamaal Tinsley. You can argue that both players are nothing more than stopgap measures and are not long-term solutions. But you can not argue that both signings are signals to the third-year player. The message: If you are not more consistent running the team, the team will move on and find someone who can.

Conley only had four points on 2-for-7 shooting in 22 minutes in the Grizzlies' 106-96 road win against Portland Friday. It is the latest in a string of inconsistent starts.

In last Saturday's game against Milwaukee, fans got to see a comparison between Conley and Bucks rookie point guard Brandon Jennings. Jennings scored 26 points in a 103-98 road win. Conley was responsible for guarding Jennings, who scored 24 second-half points.

Clearly, the team's management are believers, to a point. They have already extended his contract by picking up the team's option for the 2010-2011 season.

They also had the chance to draft Ricky Rubio with the second overall pick or another young point guard. Some of those choices are more productive than Conley now. Specifically, players like Stephen Curry and Jennings have been very productive in starts for their respective clubs.

It could be that Conley is an adequate point guard, but would need the right situation to be successful. It is possible that he is not a good fit for this team.

Conley, the fourth overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Grizzlies, has career averages of 10.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.3 assists and is averaging about 29 minutes a game.

But is this enough?

Conley is easily the most criticized starter because of inconsistent play. Fans see a player like Jennings who scores 55 points in one game. Another rookie Darren Collison, who plays for New Orleans, record his first double-double with 22 points and 11 assists in a win against Atlanta last Saturday replacing an injured Chris Paul.

When looking at other NBA teams, it is easy to have point guard-envy. I am starting to think that Conley will only be an 11-point, five-assists per game player.

He is not going to be Paul or Jennings. There are a lot of fans that believe Conley is, at best, a backup point guard in the NBA.

They believe that he is good enough to spell a top point guard, but not enough to run a club himself.

As a point guard with this team, you only need a player who can step up for big jump shots when the double team goes to one of the team's scorers. The point guard is someone who can set up the offense and teammates trust with the ball in crunch time.

Somehow, I do not think Conley will be that player.

Tell me what you think. Should the team draft a point guard in the draft next year? Should Tinsley or reserve Marcus Williams get a shot at the starting job? How long do you think Conley will hold on to the starting job?

Note: You can listen to my podcast, "Memphis Grizzlies Report ", where we talk about the latest news of the week.


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