He may be Wolverine
The Grizzlies were one of the pleasant surprises in the first month of the 2016-17 season, but on Nov. 28, disaster struck.
During the third quarter of their contest against the Charlotte Hornets, Conley planted his feet and drew a charge against Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but he didn’t emerge unscathed from the confrontation. Instead, the impact sent him hurdling back into Frank Kaminsky’s legs, which caused him to suffer transverse process fractures in the vertebrae in his lower back.
At the time, the Grizzlies estimated Conley would be sidelined for the next six weeks, which appeared to put their playoff chances in grave jeopardy. Conservative estimates pegged him to miss 22 of Memphis’ remaining 64 games at the time, which would have left the Grizzlies precious little leeway given Chandler Parsons’ infrequent availability.
Instead, Conley missed only nine games. He returned two-and-a-half weeks after going down, shattering his projected timetable and raising questions about whether he has adamantium coursing through his body. Between his sooner-than-expected recovery from this injury and him only missing three games with a facial fracture during the 2015 playoffs, Conley has basically become the NBA’s version of Wolverine.
“I was in the training room eight hours a day,” he told ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne when asked about his speedy return. “It was one of those mind-over-matter things. You just believe in positive thinking. And you can do a lot more with the body than you think you can.”
What’s even more insane: Based on his per-game production before and after going down, you’d have no way of knowing the amount of trauma his body endured. Prior to getting hurt, Conley poured in 19.2 points, 5.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 triples and 1.4 steals in just 32.2 minutes across his first 17 games. Since returning, he’s averaging 18.1 points, 6.6 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 treys and 1.1 steals over his past 18 outings.
Last March, a bulging disc in my back relegated me to spending most of my waking hours on a couch for a month. Two-and-a-half weeks after BREAKING HIS DAMN BACK, Conley was suiting up in an NBA game again. Coaches should have rewarded his toughness with a reserve nod, but it wasn’t to be.
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