The Memphis Grizzlies have the fourth-best record in the Western Conference thanks in large part to its consistently strong defensive effort. A key cog for the Grizzlies, which ranks second in the NBA in points allowed at just 89.6 points a game, is ball-hawking point guard Michael Conley.
The No. 4 pick in the 2007 NBA draft out of Ohio State, Conley is considered to be among the best perimeter defenders in the entire league. He leads the NBA with 119 steals this season, which is just ahead of Chris Paul (115) and comes just two years after setting a franchise-record for steals in a season with 144 in 2010-2011.
Pair Conley’s defensive production with the rough-and-rugged inside duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol and you can see why only the Indiana Pacers are allowing fewer points per game (89.4) than the Grizzlies.
It’s not just on the defensive end that Conley has proven to be a valuable piece for the Grizzlies. He is also a solid facilitator and adequate shooter at the point guard position. Conley leads the team in assists with 5.9 a game while also averaging 13.3 points a game, which is a solid number for a team’s third option on offense.
As you consider your NBA picks for this week, note the Grizzlies are an excellent 34-23-1 against the spread thanks in large part to Conley’s steady hand at the point guard position. They have also won nine of their last 10 games straight-up to inch within just two games of the Los Angeles Clippers for the West’s No. 2 seed.
This week the Grizzlies have three very winnable games against Portland on Wednesday, at the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday and at home against the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday. Three straight games against non-playoff contenders means the Grizzlies excellent run isn’t likely to end soon.