Mike Conley Needs to Step Up for the Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies are heading into what could very well be an up and down season in 2013. With Lionel Hollins on his way out of town, and a new head coach coming in, the system will change and the players will take on different roles. There is one guy that sticks out as the key for the Grizzlies to have success this coming season, and that player is Mike Conley.

7d3fb57780f871d88e6e8a489ed10552Conley is the floor general and all-around leader of the Memphis offense, and will asked to step up even more with a full season without Rudy Gay. He’ll be asked to step up in the scoring category as well as facilitating the basketball and defending opposing point guards as well. There’s no doubt that he’s capable of scoring the basketball after coming off of a season in which he averaged 14.6 points per contest and stepping that number even higher during the second half of the season after the Rudy Gay trade.

Memphis has two other players who have the capability to step up and take the rains as the leader of this Memphis team in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, but Conley is the real coach on the floor as the point guard. He averaged 6.1 assists per game last season, and he needs to keep that number at around the same if not even up that stat as well. He’s got to make plays for his teammates and set them up in positions to be successful, and he’s more than capable of doing that.

Despite the coaching change that the Grizzlies made this off-season, they are still in a very good position to compete in the Western Conference. They return most of their roster from last season, and also brought in some pieces that look to be solid pick-ups in Mike Miller, Jamaal Franklin, and Kosta Koufos. They will no doubt rely on both Randolph and Gasol having the same type of seasons that they had last year, but they really need a guard to step up the scoring without any other true back-court scorers in the starting lineup.

Tony Allen is definitely a great defensive player, but he’s not going to be able to create his own shots and put the ball in the bucket on a consistent basis. Off the bench you have Jerryd Bayless who is one of the most electrifying bench scorers in the NBA, but that won’t be enough to get the Grizzlies going early in the game. Their front-court is set, but Conley is going to have to prove that he’s capable of stepping up and being the primary scoring option in the back-court.

You can expect to see Conley rise up to the occasion as he always has throughout his career, and Memphis certainly needs him to. He’s one of the most underrated point guards in the league, there is absolutely no doubt about that. During the Los Angeles Clippers vs. Memphis Grizzlies Playoffs series last year, Conley was able to stand up toe to toe with Chris Paul, who is widely viewed as the NBA’s best point guard. If he’s capable of doing that consistently in that series, there’s no doubt he can carry things over into next season and do that consistently each and every night.

Evan Massey is an NBA writer for Hoops-Nation. Follow Evan and Hoops-Nation on Twitter.

Evan Massey

Evan is a diehard basketball fan with a lot of writing experience. His work has been featured on ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, Sports Illustrated, and various other publications. If you would like to contact Evan, you may email him at emasseysports@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @Massey_Evan.

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