Mike Conley Would Make Sense for the Philadelphia 76ers

Nov 29, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) drives against Philadelphia 76ers guard TJ McConnell (12) at FedExForum. Memphis defeated Phiadelphia 92-84. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 29, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) drives against Philadelphia 76ers guard TJ McConnell (12) at FedExForum. Memphis defeated Phiadelphia 92-84. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia 76ers have a slew of big men, but not a lot of depth at the guard positions. Would veteran point guard Mike Conley be worth the risk for Philly?

At this point, saying the Philadelphia 76ers need a solid, reliable point guard is a bit of a broken record. Despite the decent play last year, the unit still needs to be improved.

Yes, the return of Ish Smith helped inject some life in a Sixers team that was lifeless at the time. Yes, Isaiah Canaan provided scoring in spurts at times. And yes, T.J. McConnell hustled on every play and did his absolute, whole-hearted best.  But still, McConnell is not going to be an upper, or even mid-level, point guard, and Canaan is still a shooting guard trapped in a point guard’s body.

Smith, despite his positive play, makes the whole PG situation a bit murky for the Sixers.

Headed into free agency, the Sixers are looking to find players who can improve the team, but that goes without saying.  The Sixers have a lot of money to spend, and Philly is no longer a terrible, wasteland of a destination. The team was bad last year, sure. But Joel Embiid should be back for 2016-2017, and the young nucleus of the team has a high ceiling.

Memphis Grizzlies Point Guard Mike Conley

An intriguing PG option is project free agent Mike Conley, who has spent his entire professional career with the Memphis Grizzlies. He’s not the flashiest point guard, and he doesn’t get his name referenced in rap songs. However, Conley may be exactly what the Sixers require.  Conley has been a main fixture of the Grizzlies foundation for a number of years, and he’s established himself as arguably the NBA’s most underrated player.

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While Conley may not be the best or most consistent shooter, he takes quality shots. He’s never shot below 42 percent from the field. Conley is a good shooter off of screens, and he has a penchant for sinking off-hand floaters.  He is also creatively efficient with the ball in his hands, and his fluidity helps him create separation. He has the ability to weave through a defense and find the basket. He has an impressive knack for crossing defenders up, en route to easy buckets.

The southpaw may not do anything spectacularly, but he does a number of things above-average. His best asset is his defense, and his efforts were recognized in 2013 when he received NBA All-Defensive Second Team honors.

Conley does a good job staying with ball-handlers, as he’s held his own against some of the NBA’s best. I think Conley’s off-ball defense is what makes him such a good defender. He’s smart on the court, and doesn’t get tricked easily. He knows how to read what an offense is doing, and he does a good job with help defense.

Health Issues

The biggest issue with Conley is his health concerns, especially considering his most recent injury. Conley injured his Achilles back in March, which caused him to miss the rest of the regular season, as well as the playoffs. Conley also broke his face back in 2015. In his lengthy career, Conley has missed a total of 101 games, including 26 missed games last year, which was the most he had missed since his rookie year.

It’s also worth noting Achilles injuries are trickier than other injuries. Despite the health concerns, Conley would still be a tremendous signing for the Sixers.

From an age standpoint, bringing in a veteran like Conley would give the Sixers the desired leadership they sorely lack. But unlike Elton Brand, Conley would be a big contributor. His attitude and leadership would help transcend Philadelphia’s locker room.

Conley is an incredibly media-savvy player, which is an underrated trait for a professional athlete to have. But then again, just about everything Conley does is underrated. Conley is a team-first kind of guy, who often deflects praise of himself onto his teammates.

The 28-year-old guard is a warrior, too, as he’s played injured before, but neither complained nor made a big deal about it. After the Grizzlies lost to the Golden State Warriors in last year’s playoffs, Conley told Peter Edmiston of the Memphis Commercial Appeal the full extent of his injuries.

Essentially, it takes a whole lot to keep Conley out. That type of fighter mentality would presumably be embraced by the city of Philadelphia.

Bidding Wars?

According to numerous outlets, including Sports Illustrated, the San Antonio Spurs, a team that hasn’t missed the postseason since the 1996-1997 season, are expected to pursue Conley in free agency.  Beasley had also been linked to the Sacramento Kings in the past as well.  Per recent reports, the Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets, and the New York Knicks are interested in Conley as well.

Next: 2016 NBA Scouting Report: Malik Beasley

What that means is that if winning is Conley’s chief concern, then the Sixers may struggle to acquire him. However, as mentioned earlier, Philadelphia does have a lot of money at its disposal.

Should the Sixers overpay to ensure they can obtain Conley in a bidding war with other NBA teams? We certainly have the fat wallet, but do we spend it all?  Not if it requires an exorbitant amount of money that would be better allocated elsewhere. But Conley would certainly make sense for the rebuilding and re-branding 76ers.

He would give the team an efficient offensive player, stellar defensive player and an astute leader who has the type of attitude that would be invaluable in Philadelphia.