We're sticking with the Thunderbirds today with a look at point guard Will Conroy! Conroy is listed at 6'2" and 195 pounds! Let's go!
How he got here
Conroy played for the University of Washington alongside current NBA players Nate Robinson and Brandon Roy, who Conroy also played with in high school. Conroy was a walk-on as a freshman, but it wasn't long before he showed his talent, starting the last seven games of his freshman season and being named the team's defensive player of the year. He improved every year, leading the team in assists steals as a sophomore, and breaking the school's single-season assist record as a senior (he's also the school's career assist leader). The Huskies got a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament his senior season, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.
Conroy went undrafted, and in retrospect it's hard to understand why. DraftExpress raved about him at the time (scroll to the bottom), citing his strong defense and leadership abilities, and he performed well at the Portsmouth Invitational. Turnovers were seen as a potential concern (and we'll come to those), but even at that stage they tended to come in the context of "trying to do too much." The 2005 draft was strong in point guards at the top (perhaps you're familiar with Chris Paul and Deron Williams?), and even in the second round, while guys like Monta Ellis were available, teams also drafted point guards like Daniel Ewing, Travis Diener and Cenk Akyol, not to mention players who haven't exactly had stellar NBA careers like Chris Taft, Bracey Wright and Lawrence Roberts.
The Lakers signed Conroy for the preseason, though he was waived and entered the D-League draft, being selected by Tulsa. He played okay his first year, averaging just under 13 points and seven assists per game, though he also only made around 65 percent of his free throws. The following season he signed another preseason contract, this time with the Charlotte Bobcats, but couldn't get a spot on the team. He went back to Tulsa, where his scoring and assists improved (a D-League career-high 10.6 per game) along with his free throw percentage (which jumped up to 72 percent), even though his three-point and overall field goal percentages declined. He also had a few brief stints in the NBA that year, spending three games with the Memphis Grizzlies and four with the LA Clippers, and while he played a little under nine total minutes with the latter and picked up eight assists, he wasn't retained and went back to Tulsa.
A look at Conroy's last few D-League seasons after the jump.
Conroy spent part of the end of 2007 in Italy before coming back to the D-League, where he was selected by Iowa in the 2007 expansion draft. He was traded to Albuquerque later that year, where he posted the highest field goal, three point and free throw percentages of his career. He returned to the Thunderbirds this past season, where his scoring exploded, averaging 26 and a half points per game. Conroy only had seven games this past season where he scored fewer than 20 points, and he registered 14 double-doubles, including in back-to-back-to-back games at the beginning of January. Conroy's best game this year was probably his triple-double on March 8 against Colorado.
Turnovers continued to be a concern, however, and there were six games this year where Conroy had more turnovers than assists, including games on December 4 and April 7 when he coughed the ball up nine times. Conroy won the D-League's sportsmanship award at the end of the season.
It's possible that, as in the past, Conroy's turnovers were a product of trying to do too much himself. While Albuquerque began the season with David Noel and David Monds alongside Conroy, by the end he was playing with guys like Antonio Meeking and Jasper Johnson, plus Brad Stricker, who's not exactly an explosive offensive player. Conroy's other big accomplishment on the court this year was scoring 53 points against Colorado on April 8, and while he only registered five assists in that game, Meeking was out with injury, so Conroy may have felt even more pressure on himself, and he also tied his season high with six steals.
Still, it's a little troubling that his assist numbers the last two seasons have declined, and his shooting percentages went down across the board from a year ago. Conroy needs to focus more on taking care of the ball and making more of his free throws, but an NBA team looking for a third point guard could do (and have) done a lot worse.