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Utah Jazz fans may have to wait longer for Mike Conley’s on-court debut

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The Utah Jazz have not decided whether Mike Conley will play tomorrow in Milwaukee.

Utah Jazz Meet the Team Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Many fans—ourselves included—are pretty excited about seeing Mike Conley step onto the court for his Utah Jazz debut. Conley was the Jazz’s first offseason move after they were unceremoniously bumped out of the playoffs in five games by the Houston Rockets. They knew they needed additional firepower. The Jazz front office felt that their team as constructed was not enough to push them to the next tier. That lesson wasn’t even one they needed to learn by the playoff time, they had already tried to swap Rubio over to Memphis for Conley at NBA Trade Deadline last February.

As of right now the Jazz—and Quin Snyder—are being coy about any plans to have the veteran point guard play in Milwaukee saying it’s up to the team’s medical staff. Honestly, there’s not one good reason Mike Conley should play a single game of preseason.

I know there’s the concern that he may not have the feel of the team out there on the floor against the top NBA squads, but this is Mike Conley we’re talking about. If he played in any other conference but the Western Conference, he’d be an All-Star. He had a superstar type season in Memphis last year, and he can learn quickly. He has been in every type of late game, close game, blowout, physical, and run and gun situation. He is one of the most professional, basketball intelligent players in the NBA. If Utah feels that he’s playing well in practice, don’t unleash him until the season.

While I don’t think it can hurt to have him play can hurt Utah’s chemistry and familiarity on the floor—it can only help—he’s not in a position like fellow veterans Jeff Green, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Ed Davis where they’re being asked to slot into new roles offensively and defensively.

Now, realistically speaking, Mike Conley will play at least one preseason game. If Utah wants to really take their new backcourt of Conley and Mitchell out for a test drive then waiting until the Jazz take on the Portland Trail Blazers at home on the 16th would be the ideal target. In that game the Utah Jazz take on Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. If there was a good way to evaluate how quickly Conley and Mitchell were coming together as a backcourt, it would be that game.

Mike Conley would also get great practice in a game situation with a top tier shotblocker like Hassan Whiteside and learn how to read that lob to Rudy Gobert against a defender of Gobert’s size. It would provide great on-court experience for those two.

The benefit of the game being at home in Utah is just the cherry on top. If Conley is going to debut anywhere, let him debut in front of the Jazz crowd, not in Milwaukee. If anything the game in Milwaukee is a good way for Utah to test its power forward Voltron of Royce O’Neale, Jeff Green, Joe Ingles, and Bojan Bogdanovic as it faces the Greek Freak Giannis.

Whatever the decision, it will pay to be patient with Conley’s debut. Holding him back only helps Utah safeguard his health as they prepare to tackle the most important season in two decades.