Grading the trade for the Minnesota Timberwolves
At last year's trade deadline, the Timberwolves were sitting at 30-28, fighting to keep playoff hopes alive throughout the second half of the season.
With Conley in tow, the team finished with a 42-40 record, going on to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Play-In Tournament to secure a spot in the NBA playoffs. However, Minnesota ultimately lost in the first round to the eventual NBA champion Denver Nuggets.
After a full offseason to build chemistry with the squad including unproven postseason players such as Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, and others, the team has exceeded expectations. Conley's previous partnership with Rudy Gobert on the Jazz has proved to be an invaluable asset for the Wolves in bringing out the best in the big man, particularly following an uncomfortable and tense debut.
The 17-year veteran is averaging 10.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game while shooting 44.6% from the field and 43.9 percent from downtown. Perhaps most importantly, he's only averaging 1.1 giveaways per game.
While the numbers aren't mind-blowing it's the leadership and efficient play that counts the most for the impact Conley has made. He's never provided much of a wow factor and it's especially telling now, as he's entering the twilight years of his career.
Last season, the team often found themselves struggling in critical moments, but with Conley's maturity and leadership, the team has been able to turn things around as Minnesota currently sits atop the Western Conference with a 33-14 record.
Conley's leadership and experience have been invaluable in helping the team navigate through challenging situations. He ranks first on the team in clutch plus/minus. Additionally, he's shooting 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from three, and 100 percent from the charity line when the game matters most.
His calm and collected demeanor on the court has been a breath of fresh air for the team, especially during high-pressure games. Also, Conley's skillful ball-handling and superb decision-making have helped the team tremendously.
His ability to make smart decisions with the ball has helped Minnesota cut down on turnovers. Without Conley manning the point, the Timberwolves would likely rank dead last in the association.
Overall, Mike Conley has been an integral asset to the team and has played a significant role in Minnesota reaching contending status.