Bucks prospects: PG Mike Conley
This is the first in a series of looks at players the Milwaukee Bucks could draft with their number 6 pick. Today I am focusing on Michael Conley, Jr., the point guard from the Ohio State University.
Upside Comparison: Nate "Tiny" Archibald (Career High Eff48: 35.72)
Downside Comparison: Kenny Anderson (Career High Eff48: 25.13)
What I like about him: Teams with good point guards tend to advance in the playoffs, and Conley is considered by many the best point guard prospect in this draft. It appears as though he could upgrade the Bucks significantly at that key position. I love his lightning quickness and unmatched speed in the open court. I also LOVE his willingness to penetrate the lane (his collegiate FTA/FGA, or "Basket Attack Ratio" was 47%), something Mo Williams (Career BA ratio: 18%) simply will not do. (That's why Williams is generally considered a 2 guard in a point guard's body). I also like the fact that Conley is universally praised for his defensive intensity. A defensively sound PG can really disrupt the other team's offensive flow. Again, that would be a potentially huge upgrade from Mo Williams. I also like the fact that he seems willing to get his teammates involved, and that in the NCAA title game he showed the ability to step up when the bright lights were on him.
What scares me about him: The first thing that scares me is his size. My ideal point guard is and will always be Paul Pressey: 6'5'', physically strong, with long arms, and great penetration skills. Pressey could disrupt anyone on the defensive end, and his drives to the lane opened up the offense. Conley, on the other hand, is listed at 6'1'', 185, meaning he is probably closer to 6'0''. Point guards that size tend to get exploited on the defensive end, no matter how skilled they are at playing defense. Moreover, he wasn't a huge producer in college (Eff48: 24.31) which scares me a bit, making me think his Eff48 productivity ceiling might be closer to Anderson's (mid 20's) than Archibald's (mid 30s). But one year of college doesn't give me much evidence to go on. But it does raise another issue. An historical analysis by Nbadraft.net shows that point guards who come into the Association with less than two years of college experience tend to overwhelmingly fail. Conley has only one year of college experience, so the Bucks would be rolling the dice. Finally, the biggest question mark for me is whether he will continue to show the courage necessary to get in the lane in the Association. There are plenty of examples of small point guards like Conley who were proficient penetrators in college but then transformed themselves into mainly perimeter players in the pros. For example, TJ Ford. He had the same collegiate basket attack ratio at Texas as Conley had at Ohio State (47%), but as soon as he got to the NBA that BA dipped way down (28%). And then there's Brevin Knight. He had an Attack ratio of over (61%) at Stanford; when he got to the NBA it plummeted to under 25%. That happens alot to small point guards. On the other hand, there are the rare examples of little guys who remained fearless: Chris Paul had a collegiate basket attack ratio of over 60% at Wake Forest and he has maintained a high penetration rate in the pros, with a BA of over 48%. And then there is the incomparable Tiny Archibald, who I discuss below. Those type of small point guards, guys who continue to attack the lane when they get to the pros, tend to succeed. The ones who don't have very low ceilings.
Bottom Line on Conley: As I stated above, I think the big thing that will either make Conley the next Kenny Anderson, a lightning quick but ultimately mediocre left handed point guard, or the next Nate "Tiny" Archibald, the greatest little lefty point guard of all-time -- and an NBA Top 50 guy --will be his willingness to penetrate to the basket in the Association. If he comes to the pros and decides to just sit outside and gun, as Anderson did (career Basket Attack ratio: 27%) I think he will be a marginal player at best. If, on the other hand, he emulates the legendary Tiny Archibald and the up-and-coming Chris Paul, and attacks the basket relentlessly (Tiny had a career BA of nearly 49%), he has the chance to be an exceptional point guard at the next level.