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Wolves at Grizzlies: Appreciating Mike Conley

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Minnesota heads to Memphis to face off with Mike Conley and the Grizzlies

NBA: Houston Rockets at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Wolves (32-40) at Grizzlies (29-43)

7:00pm CDT

FS North +

We’re long past the point of the season where these regular season games have much meaning for our beloved Timberwolves, and the same can be said for the Memphis Grizzlies.

While the Wolves aren’t straight up “tanking” they are holding a long list of rotation players out for the rest of the season. Jeff Teague, Derrick Rose, Robert Covington, and Luol Deng are all out for the season.

This will allow Minnesota to get a longer look at intriguing prospects like Keita Bates-Diop and Cam Reynolds. Neither figures to be a star down the road, but they’ve each shown flashes of being acceptable rotation players.

The downside of this, however, is that there’ll be a lot of Jerryd Bayless and a lot of Andrew Wiggins moving forward. Still, there are reasons to tune in each night and try to find joy in each game.

On the Timberwolves side, that reason is almost always going to be Karl-Anthony Towns. He’s playing his ass off each and every night. Whatever financial motivation he may have does not change the fact that he’s playing hard every single night on a team that is once again destined for the lottery due to a poor supporting cast.

On the opposite side, Mike Conley is the kind of guy who deserves more of the spotlight. He’s spent his whole career being the rock in Memphis. He’ll probably be gone this offseason as Memphis looks to rebuild around Jaren Jackson Jr. and the rest of their young players, but he’s been a staple of that city from the beginning.

He’s never made an All-Star Game as a result of being in the Western Conference, but Conley is a force. Over his prime (ages 26-31) Conley holds averages of roughly 17/6/3 on solid shooting.

More than anything, you have to appreciate his professionalism. Memphis has been in a tough spot and Conley has handled it with class. Whichever team he ends up on next will know exactly what they’re getting: a consistent point guard who will lead.

In a perfect world where the salary cap doesn’t exist, Conley is a great fit for what the Wolves are looking for. They desperately need a co-star for Towns, and while Conley may not be a superstar, he is a good enough player offensively to theoretically take some of the attention away from Towns.

I mentioned this before the Warriors game, but these games are extremely important for Tyus Jones. Heading into free agency, Jones needs to show that he can both be an advanced stats machine and a capable scorer to run the offense. He doesn’t need to be Steph Curry, but he does need to be a much more reliable shooter than he has been. It’s unlikely any team will take a chance on him as their starting point guard if they don’t think he can make shots.

Bet of the night

I’m in no way saying that you SHOULD make these bets. I’m not betting them. It’s just a fun extra thing that I’ll be tracking for the remainder of the season. All lines via Bovada.

Well, it’s been a rough go of it for us recently. We’re down to 7-11 on the season. Tonight we will look to put one back in the win column.

The pick: Wolves -1 (-105)

Marc Gasol is gone, and while Jonas Valancuinas is a good replacement, he doesn’t have the same track record guarding KAT that Gasol does. For that reason, I think the Wolves offense just may be able to score more points than the opposition. There’s no real great way to evaluate this game and have any clue of what’s going to happen, but I’ll take KAT to lead the band to a road victory. As I typed that, I realized what I had done. Welp.

Projected Lineups

Wolves

Tyus Jones

Josh Okogie

Andrew Wiggins

Dario Saric

Karl-Anthony Towns

Grizzlies

Mike Conley

Delon Wright

Justin Holiday

Bruno Caboclo

Jonas Valancuinas