Since the season began, Royce O’Neale and Mike Conley have been competing in shooting drills against each other in practices. Now, O’Neale wanted Conley to go on the record, so he sneaked into a media scrum after Monday’s shootaround.
“Who is a better shooter? Me, Royce O’Neale, or Mike Conley?,” O’Neale asked.
“Well, as of three weeks ago, I would have said Royce. But three weeks ago I said you’d never beat me again in a shooting drill, and you haven’t since. So, I say me,” Conley responded.
“I think that’s because I’m trying to give you confidence," O’Neale shot back. "Is it working, though?”
“I don’t know if it’s that, or I’m just a good shooter by nature," Conley laughed.
But then, a reporter pointed out O’Neale’s shooting stats: He’s shooting 51.6% from the 3-point line this season, albeit on only 2.2 shots per game. Meanwhile, Conley is now up to 36% from 3, on 5.6 attempts.
“If you have a guy who’s shooting 50% from 3, as a point guard, do you have an obligation to get him the ball?” the reporter asked.
“Yeah, and he has an obligation to shoot it, too,” Conley said, as he looked over to O’Neale. “I’m trying my best. We’ll see what he does. I get mad [when he doesn’t shoot it]!"
What Quin Snyder wants from Emmanuel Mudiay
Emmanuel Mudiay is shooting the ball extremely well in early season action. He’s 51.7% from the field overall, including a remarkable 59% from between four feet and the 3-point line. If he were to keep that up, it’d be one of the best midrange shooting seasons of all time — Chris Paul’s best season was at 53%, and Kevin Durant’s best was 52%. Given those names, it may be fair to assume that Mudiay could see some regression to the mean from midrange over the course of the season.
But what Jazz coach Quin Snyder is interested in seeing is Mudiay’s decision-making evolve. Right now, he’s averaging 4.3 turnovers per 36 minutes, an extremely high rate. It would be Mudiay’s career high, and would likely put him in the top five of the league.
“What I value in him more than anything is his focus and desire to make winning plays. I think he’s finding a balance in his ability to create for himself and his ability to create for other people,” Snyder said. “When a coach or a team is asking different things for you, that adjustment is hard.”
So while it may be fair to assume Mudiay’s shooting will decline at some point — it can’t stay this good forever — his turnovers likely will as well.