Mike Conley should have been an All-Star last season. The problem is, there are just so many good point guards in the Western Conference that it’s hard for one of the lower-profile guys to set himself apart next to bigger stars like Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook.
Conley has fought against the “underrated” tag his entire career, turning into one of the league’s steadiest guards, a great clutch shooter, solid defender and good passer. And now, as the NBA gets ready to announce this year’s All-Star teams, he wants his due. In a brand-new profile by Grantland’s Jonathan Abrams (which, as with everything Abrams writes, is an absolute must-read), Conley talks about what being named an All-Star would mean to him.
Conley, of course, knows how deep the Western Conference is with talent, and he understands that even if he plays at an All-Star level, getting selected for the All-Star Game remains a long shot. Bigger stars with flashier names are likely to receive All-Star recognition before him. “My ultimate goal isn’t making the All-Star team,” Conley said. “It’s bigger than that. It’s championships. But when it comes to just All-Stars, that is one of my goals. I told myself last year, ‘I didn’t do enough. We didn’t win. We weren’t a good team early.’ [This season], I feel like I’ve gotten much better and our team is where we want to be. We are one of the better teams in the league. We’ve put ourselves in a position where everybody can get noticed individually. This would be a good time [to be named an All-Star]. If it doesn’t happen, it would suck.”
Around the league, Conley has steadily been getting more and more respect, and with Memphis having one of the best records in the cutthroat Western Conference, the case to finally give Conley an All-Star nod is as strong as ever. He won’t get voted in as a starter (those are announced tonight), but the reserves (which will be revealed on January 28) are picked by the coaches, and anyone who’s coached against Conley knows how good he is. Hopefully, this is the year.