The Utah Jazz traded for veteran point guard Mike Conley last summer with the hope that pairing him with franchise cornerstones Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert would boost their chances of fully dominating the Western Conference -- and winning the NBA championship title -- in the 2019-20 NBA season. Unfortunately, since he started representing the Jazz, Conley has been seen as something of a disappointment by many analysts and fans. He has failed to live up to expectations, some claim, as Utah gave up multiple trade assets to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for him.
However, according to Mandela Namaste of Bleacher Report, Conley could be the biggest X-factor for the Jazz in the 2020 NBA Playoffs. Though Mitchell and Gobert are considered the franchise cornerstones in Utah, Mandela believes that it's Conley who is "ostensibly in charge" of the Jazz's fate this season.
"Now, what does Conley have to do with any of this? Well, he's the team's point guard and elder statesman, meaning he's ostensibly in charge of the Jazz's fate. If he's finally able to make sense of his role and help Mitchell and Gobert regain solid chemistry, then Utah could win a series. If he continues to show signs of decline, then the Jazz may need to bite the bullet and begin shopping him. With Gobert potentially on the trade block and Conley seemingly past his prime, Utah's roster could look very different come December."
Conley may currently be the odd man out in Utah, but if he manages to make himself fit with Coach Quin Snyder's system -- and if he builds good chemistry with Mitchell and Gobert -- he could indeed be capable of dictating the team's fate in the 2020 NBA Playoffs. Though he's already 32, Conley remains a very reliable contributor. In Conley's latest appearance in the postseason, he managed to establish an outstanding performance on both ends of the floor -- he averaged 24.7 points, 7.0 assists, and 1.7 steals on 48.5 percent shooting from the field and 44.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
If Conley replicates the same performance in the 2020 NBA Playoffs, the Jazz would undeniably be a tough team to face in the Western Conference. However, if Conley fails to show his former level of performance -- and continues to struggle on both ends of the floor -- it's hard to imagine the Jazz reaching the top of the Western Conference this season. If they suffer an early playoff exit, there's also a strong possibility that Conley has already played his first, and final, season wearing the Jazz's jersey.