(KJG is ranking the top 10 games of the 2012-13 for each player that made our top 30 list, which you can find here)
27. Mike Conley, Point Guard, Memphis Grizzlies
2012-2013 Statistics: 14.6 points (.440/.362/.830), 2.8 rebounds, 6.1 assists (2.4 turnovers), 2.2 steals, 0.3 blocks (2.1 fouls) in 34.5 minutes (80 games)
Mike Conley plays the most stacked position in the league, on top of which he was the fourth option on his own team last season. The Grizzlies prefer the pace to be glacially slow, running their offense through Zach Randolph in the low post, Marc Gasol at the elbows and Rudy Gay isolated on the wing. The style and lack of touches artificially depressed Conley’s offensive statistics until Gay was traded. Conley necessarily assumed a larger burden and for the most part, responded well. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies boasted the second-best defense in the NBA; the lion’s share of the credit belongs to Defensive Player of the Year Gasol and All-Defense 1st Teamer Tony Allen, but Conley was no slouch. Despite his wiry frame and diminutive stature (6’1″, 185 lbs., i.e. smaller than Trey Burke), Conley is a tenacious ballhawk with excellent quickness and anticipation (he forced almost as many turnovers as he committed). While his shooting dropped off precipitously (albeit against three top-10 defenses) in the playoffs, Conley started drawing fouls in bulk as scorers are supposed to. It remains to be seen if Memphis can maintain its offensive games over a full season with Gay as a safety valve, but don’t be surprised if Mike Conley emerges as a fringe All-Star.