The Utah Jazz played the Los Angeles Lakers without starting point guard Mike Conley due to an injury. The Jazz struggled without their quarterback of the offense, as the Jazz got crushed at home by 25 points.
While Mike Conley might have been able to narrow that margin of defeat, based on how he has played this season, it’s clear that he would not have helped much.
Even though Conley was brought in to take this Jazz team to a playoff level, he has struggled this season, posting his worst points per game totals since 2011-12 (13.9) and his worst assist per game totals since the 2017-18 season (4.1).
It seems like Conley is still struggling to fit in with this Jazz team, as the offense looks a little wonky and while focused on his own adjustment, he hasn’t really been the mentor that some expected him to be of the Jazz’s young star in Donovan Mitchell.
There were many free-agent options at point guard that the Jazz could have considered this off-season, and one of those options that should have gotten more consideration is Chris Paul.
Although Paul is paid almost $10 million more per season than Conley, he has a much more decorated resume than Conley. He has quite the full trophy case, as Paul has made an All-NBA team eight teams and has been a nine-time All-Star, as he undoubtedly is headed to the Hall-of-Fame.
Paul could especially help the Jazz on the defensive end because the Jazz that was once feared has fallen to 11th in the league for the season, and in the last 10 games, they have fallen to 16th in the league giving up 4.9 more points per 100 possessions than they averaged last season.
Paul has been honored on the NBA All-Defensive team nine times and has a lot of playoff experience locking up talented offensive point guards such as Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry. That tenacity that Paul brings on defense could have helped the Jazz win more games this season.
The Jazz’s offensive game could also be helped on the offensive end, with his ability to move the ball and find shots for his teammates. The offense has never clicked and is currently ranked 23rd in the league, and that’s partially because Conley is only shooting 37 percent from the field.
Paul has already been shooting much better than that this season, as he is shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 88.6 percent from the free-throw line.
Paul would fit into the Jazz offense very well under head coach Quin Snyder, who had praise for the future Hall of Famer following their playoff series last season.
“I’ve said it before, I think Chris is probably a better coach than me,” Snyder admitted ahead of Utah’s 122-90 Game 1 playoff loss to Houston on Sunday. “And that’s not saying much about me, but I’m trying to give him a compliment,” he continued. “His ability to read the game and lead at various times.”
Even though Paul has seemingly burned bridges in his time with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Houston Rockets, his playoff experience, defensive ability, and playmaking ability would be an improvement over Conley this season.
It’s hard for Jazz fans to not look back and say ‘What If?’, as having Paul would give the Jazz more playoff experience and talent on both ends of the floor, which is valuable in a loaded Western Conference.