Utah Jazz: Mike Conley returns home to receive special honor

Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /

A Utah Jazz star was in Indiana to relish his hometown Hall of Fame status.

One might wonder why Mike Conley hadn’t long since landed in his high school’s Hall of Fame. Maybe the powers that be were just hard to please. Perhaps they were waiting until after the 14-year NBA player earned his first All-Star nod, which he did last season as the starting point guard for a league-leading 52-20 Utah Jazz squad.

Whatever the reason for the holdup, the wait is now over as of Friday night. The 33-year-old Conley returned to his Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, where he won three state titles as a five-star recruit:

Mike Conley’s projected role for the 2021-22 Utah Jazz

Assuming Conley stays somewhat injury-free — i.e., avoiding further hiccups from the hamstring issues that plagued the Jazz in their early postseason exit — he should retain his starting job across the entire upcoming season. It’s reasonable to think the beloved veteran will again contend for an All-Star selection.

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Outside of a possible slight minutes reduction due to promising young guards in Salt Lake City like Jared Butler and Trent Forrest, there’s no reason to expect any significant differences in Conley’s duties this go-round.

Last season, his second with the Jazz, Mike Conley averaged 16.2 points, 6.0 assists, and 1.4 assists across 29.4 minutes per game while shooting a career-high 41.2 percent from 3-point range.

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However, as alluded to earlier, the former No. 4 overall draft pick out of Ohio State missed more than two dozen games between the 2020-21 regular season and playoffs. And his late absences, of course, played a part in No. 1 seed Utah dropping four straight contests to the No. 4 seed Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Semifinals.