The 2007 NCAA National Championship game pitted Corey Brewer, Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Marreese Speights against Greg Oden, Daequan Cook and Mike Conley, Jr. The squad with four future NBA players handled the three with relative ease.
Even then, it was apparent to everyone that Greg Oden was the man to watch in that game, as he would inevitably go on to have the most successful career of the lot. Meanwhile, nothing much was thought of the 6 foot 1 Ohio State point guard.
The NBA has a funny way of making an ass out of fortune tellers. Speculation quickly gives way to reality as the weight of professionalism and luck dumps itself onto the shoulders of a kid fresh out of college. Then our predictions turn upside down.
While Greg Oden sits on the free agent block only five seasons after being drafted, Mike Conley has been a consistent contributor in the league during those years. Conley has been doing his thing since day 1, but recently he has really come out of his shell averaging 14, 6 and 2.5 steals per game.
While Conley’s numbers are great, his real value is observed during the course of an entire Memphis game as he maestros the flow, ensuring that Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph get theirs while picking the perfect time to keep the defense honest with his wide array of offensive abilities (he is shooting 43% from beyond the arc and 44% percent overall).
Maybe his best asset is on the defensive end, where he ranks among the top in the league in steals. That by itself can be misleading. Case in point: Allen Iverson consistently led the NBA in steals per game because he was gambling, playing “hero defense” and not staying in front of his man. Watching Conley on the defensive end, however, is inspiring in the way he moves his feet and beats his man to the spot.
This morning it was his shoes that caught my eye. Adidas is a shoe brand that I have never gravitated towards. The adiZero Crazy Lights look sweet, though. And most important, they feel comfortable with their ample ankle support.
Stay tuned, I may be trying these out in the near future…