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Mike Conley: The All-Star that never was

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After missing out on another All-Star selection, a look back at his amazing underrated career, and a look forward to the ultimate goal of an NBA championship.

Los Angeles Lakers v Utah Jazz Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

There was hope this season that Mike Conley would finally make a much-deserved All-Star game. When Conley and the Jazz caught fire and the wins started rolling in, many hoped that this would be the year. It’s pretty insane to think that in 2021, we’re still waiting for Mike Conley to be an All-Star. Talk about a guy that has just been a stud his entire career, in about every way you can imagine. Plays his heart out, a complete class-act, a winner, clutch, and just an all-around good dude. It’s crazy to think that every year there is 24 players selected as All-Stars, and for 12 seasons not one of those selections has been Mike Conley. It’s what makes him probably one of the more underrated players not just active right now, but in NBA history.

This season, Conley is averaging 16.4 points per game on 45 percent shooting, including a career-high 42 percent from three. He’s dominated advanced stats like 538’s RAPTOR rating, where he was first in the league for some time and has remained in the top 10. He’s spent the majority of this season as the NBA’s leader in plus-minus, until being passed by Rudy Gobert just recently. Conley’s elevated play this season has arguably been the main factor on the Jazz having the NBA’s best record. Conley has been huge for the Jazz in so many games this season, and is a key factor in their ability to contend for a championship in the playoffs later on.

Before Conley missed a few games with a hamstring injury, his All-Star case was looking pretty great. It’s always hard to predict what the coaches are thinking for the selection of the reserves, but you’d think the coaches out of anyone would respect Mike Conley. After the reserves were announced this week without Mike Conley being named, there was still some hope with the incoming replacement for the injured Anthony Davis. News broke yesterday that Adam Silver had selected Devin Booker to replace Davis, and just like that Mike Conley’s All-Star hopes were no more.

At 33 years old, it’s hard to imagine that Conley has enough left in the tank to play much better than he currently is, on the best team in the NBA. It’s unfortunate and disappointing, but according to Mike Conley, it’s honestly expected. Conley joked with his teammates that had they have been 31-0, maybe he would have gotten in.

After the second snub, the Jazz had an important game to focus on with the Lakers in town for a NBA Wednesday night primetime game. With that snub on his mind, Mike Conley came for blood. Right off the opening tip, Conley came around a Gobert screen and drilled a three from the top of the key. He scored 8 quick points in the first quarter, and seemed to have a different energy to him. He was a huge part of the Jazz convincing win over the Lakers last night, without being flashy or putting up gaudy numbers, because that’s exactly what Mike Conley does.

After the game in a post-game press conference, Donovan talked about the Jazz wanted to set Mike up for a big game, a revenge game even. But in true Mike Conley fashion, he just wanted to play, and win as a team.

His good friend and long-time teammate Marc Gasol also spoke of his All-Star snub after last night’s game.

Although it’s sad and disappointing, Mike will be okay. He’s had an amazing NBA career that still isn’t over. He’s made millions and millions of dollars and given back generously to every area he’s touched. He’s been a good man on and off the court, his entire career. He has a beautiful wife and kids, and has surely set them up for great lives for generations to come. Even with all of that, Mike Conley isn’t finished. He and the Jazz now shift their focus, effort and attention on the ultimate goal of winning an NBA championship, which would surely trump any single All-Star selection - like ever.