Conley: Jump shot changes everything

Conley: Jump shot changes everything
March 26, 2013, 1:15 pm
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It wasn't that long ago that Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies faced similar questions.

Is he worth a big contract, and could he ever develop the jump shot to make him a respectable NBA point guard and lead his team to the playoffs?

The answers to all three were yes, and Wizards point guard John Wall is close to silencing doubts as his third season comes to a close. He is eligible for a contract extension July 1, though he has one year remaining on his rookie scale contract. 

"Oh, you did think about it. If you want a deal, you've got to be worth it," Conley said working on his jump shot to secure a five-year, $45 million extension going into his third season in 2010. "You got to have all the talents and all the skills to go along with it. Getting that jumper is a big key."

Wall poured in a career-high 47 points vs. Grizzlies on Monday, making 13 of 22 shots, including 2 of 4 three-pointers. In March, he has knocked down 52.3% of his jump shots (112 of 214). He has made 50% of threes (8 of 16).

Like Conley, Wall's speed has made it so easy for him to get to the rim in high school and college that his jump shot has lagged behind as a pro. 

"For quick guards like us, it opens up the court a lot more because teams just can't sag off of you. You can make more plays in the paint," Conley said. "They have to honor you, respect you jumper, they have to run out on you. It makes you so much tougher to guard when you're a dual threat like that."

Wall worked diligently in the offseason to improve his shot, but he missed the first 33 games of this season because of a knee injury. He couldn't train and when he did return on Jan. 12 his statistics haven't always looked good. 

Now he's shooting a career-high 45.5% from the field. 

Altering the jump shot takes time. Conley worked with Mark Price, one of the NBA's greatest shooters, when he was an assistant coach in Memphis. There were many others in between.

"It probably took about a year of just changing your shot, and then believing in it, and trusting in it after that. I've had so many different guys, especially in my early years," Conley said. "Mark Price came in and helped me for a short period of time. ... In the offseason I worked at Ohio State with Chris Jent, assistant coach there, a real good shooter. He helped me out a lot. I had a lot of  people give me a lot of tips here and there.

"The biggest thing for me was using my legs. I was an all arms shooter for the most part. I never jumped on my jumper. So once I started to get down to a good solid stance and squaring up, things took off."