After years of the Jazz and the guard being linked, Utah finally pulled the trigger and traded for Mike Conley. Conley, along with Mark Gasol, was the head of the Grit-Grind Grizzlies, a team that made the playoffs for 7 straight seasons, was really fun, great defensively, but never won a championship. Even though he has never made an All Star Game, Conley has had a good career, consistently averaging 15 points and 6 assists per game. He is also great defensively, which fits right in with the Utah Jazz. Is Utah good enough to compete in the West?
First, lets start with the trade. Utah sent Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, Grayson Allen, the 23rd pick, and a protected future 1st rounder to Memphis in exchange for Conley. There is one clear winner in this trade and it’s Mike Conley. He gets to leave Memphis after playing there for 12 years. Utah should be a perfect fit. Utah needs to trade for or draft their stars, because marquee free agents don’t want to play there.
So right now, Utah’s starting 5 would be Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert. That lineup is scary good on defense. Gobert is about to win his 2nd straight defensive player of the year. Royce O’Neale, a backup small forward could take the spot, as he shot 38% from deep on 2 attempts per game. It’s a small sample size, but he will need to develop for Utah to have a chance. The Jazz really need to do fill out their bench with shooters. The bench right now has almost no talent, and the Jazz just sent their 1st round pick away.
After this trade, I’d say the Jazz are definitely a top 4 team in the West. It’s crucial they go all in this year, because it’s looking like the Warriors will just be competing for a playoff spot instead of a championship. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are both likely out for all of next season, and the Warriors have no bench. The Rockets are going through lots of turmoil involving James Harden and Chris Paul, so who knows how their roster will look next season. The Lakers have two top 10 players, so once they fill out their bench they’ll be a threat. I think the team best equipped to win the West is the Nuggets. They have a star in Nikola Jokic, lots of great depth, a great home-court advantage, and great coaching. That’s not to say the Jazz have no chance. This trade gave them someone who knows how to win, and it increased their chances by a lot. If they sign some more 3 and D guys for their bench, they’ll be a real threat next year.
Mike Conley is 32 years old, and he’s had injury problems for years. The Warriors will be down this season. If the Jazz are going to contend, they need to do it this season.