NBA

Mike Conley Leaves the Orlando Bubble for the Birth of His Son

Aug 1, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Utah Jazz's Mike Conley (10) plays against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Ashley Landis/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Mike Conley has returned to Ohio for the birth of his son. While he hasn’t performed great compared to his time in Memphis, Conley is a steady presence at the point and takes ball-handling responsibilities off of Donovan Mitchell, as well as providing good defense. In the bubble, he’s averaged 18 points on 43.2% shooting and 5.7 assists per game. 

With the Jazz depth already hurt by Bojan Bogdanovic’s absence, the bench is going to get shorter in the playoffs. It will be interesting to see who takes Conley’s minutes. The coaching staff could start Jordan Clarkson or Emmanual Mudiay, but their skillsets overlap with Donovan Mitchell. If Quin Snyder isn’t comfortable starting either one of those two, they can give Joe Ingles ball-handling duties and slide George Niang into the starting lineup. However, all these lineups lose perimeter defense, which they are going to need against the guard-heavy Nuggets.

Potential Replacements

Look to rookie Miye Oni to receive some minutes. He got the start against the Spurs in their last game, and he showed his quick release on his three, the ability to switch on defense, and good decision making. He gives the Jazz a dose of athleticism their starting lineup doesn’t currently have. 

While people focus on the tandem of Mitchell and Gobert, Conley is a better pairing with Gobert. He is more comfortable passing in the pick and roll than Mitchell, who prefers to score. Gobert has made it clear that he wants a more prominent scoring role on the team, so Conley dishing him the ball would keep him engaged in the game.

Mike Conley is likely to miss a majority of their series against the Nuggets. Whenever he does decide to return, there likely will be a quarantine period before Conley can play. The Jazz are going to miss his steady play, ball movement, and defense. 

Update:

Adrian Wojnarowski reported veteran center Ed Davis will also miss the first-round series with an MCL injury. While he doesn’t play a huge role on the court, especially with the emergence of Tony Bradley as a solid backup, he should be able to provide a bench presence for the Jazz.

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