Bulls

Adaptability, athleticism make Grayson Allen intriguing NBA Draft prospect

Adaptability, athleticism make Grayson Allen intriguing NBA Draft prospect

Part of the acclimation process many college athletes go through upon entering the league is finding their specific role. Players who are months removed from being the go-to players on their respective college teams enter an organization that’s looking for a role player, a lockdown defender, a scorer on the second unit, maybe even a project. It can be tough for said players to accept that after being alphas on a national stage that led them to the point of being drafted. It’s also something Grayson Allen will have no problem adjusting to.

A rare senior with first-round potential (two seniors were taken in Round 1 last year, at 29 and 30), Allen has had the opportunity and burden of playing on four supremely talented Duke teams. But unlike the Shane Battiers and Mike Dunleavys that came through Durham in the early ‘00s, Allen watched one-and-dones cycle through the program and it subsequently changed Allen’s role on the team.

Consider this: In his time at Duke Allen played with nine different players who have appeared in the NBA – Okafor, Cook, Winslow, Jones, Ojeleye, Plumlee, Ingram, Kennard, Tatum. Two others, Frank Jackson and Harry Giles, were selected last year but sat with injuries. Then take Allen’s current teammates who will be taken at some point: Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter, Tre Duval and Gary Trent and there are 15 different NBA players who Allen shared the floor with at Duke.

Allen was tasked with being the go-to scorer as a sophomore, but his attempts decreased in his junior and senior seasons as he shared point-guard duties for teams without a real identity at the position; Jackson and Duval were both underwhelming in their lone seasons with the Blue Devils. Allen’s assists per game and assist percentage jumped up as his scoring decreased, though he still managed 15.0 points on 37 percent shooting from deep in his final two years.

“Each year I’ve been at Duke I’ve had to score in different spots and I think that has helped me so much,” he said Thursday at the NBA Draft Combine. “Playing with extremely talented guys that I had to adjust scoring in different spots to add to my game, that makes me more ready. I can adjust to whatever situation.”

Allen admitted his best trait is his shooting – his 291 career 3-pointers are 13th most in ACC history – and he shot 38 percent over his four-year career. And though he admitted J.J. Redick has been a mentor and someone to lean on during the pre-draft process, the comparisons between the two stop at the shooting.

“I don’t think J.J. jumped 40 inches,” Allen said while laughing.

Allen was a winner on Thursday, putting together a combine that included a 40.5-inch max vertical and 32.5-inch standing vertical, both sixth best among all players. His 10.31-second lane agility time was the fastest at the combine and the fifth fastest in the database that goes back to 2000. His shuttle run of 3.04 seconds was third fastest among all players.

Put another way: Allen is one hell of an athlete. He converted 49 percent of his 2-pointers at Duke and got to the free throw line an average of 5.0 times per game in his final three seasons. Oh, and he won the 2014 McDonald’s All-American Game Dunk Contest in 2014.

He measured a solid 6-foot-4.5 in shoes and has a 6-foot-7 wingspan. Though his calling card isn’t on the defensive end, his athleticism may make up for some of his shortcomings on that end. He’ll make or break his NBA career on the offensive end, and if a team can hide him defensively it won’t matter.

His intensity and maturity have come into question, mainly from the multiple tripping incidents he had at Duke. He was stripped of his captaincy as a junior but regained it for his senior season. If he can harness his intensity and channel it correctly it’ll benefit a team greatly.

Allen is also familiar with Chicago. He was in town for this week’s Lottery and Combine, but he also spent three weeks in the Windy City last summer doing an internship with Intersport, a media sales company. The Bulls have the 22nd pick in the first round and Allen could be an option for a team looking for more shooting in the backcourt.

“I love Chicago. I was here last summer doing an internship at Intersport for about three weeks. I loved my time here. It was during the summer so it was warm and nice weather,” he said. “I love the city of Chicago. It’s a great place with great people, and the Bulls are a great franchise. It would be amazing to play for a team like that.”

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

The door has officially been closed on the 2017-18 season for the Chicago Bulls, and the word that most comes to mind is “unfulfilling.”

Or maybe even “indistinguishable.”

Draft night was supposed to be a culmination of a painful seven-month stretch that only had occasional yet costly moments of light.

Death lineup? Meet Death March. And Death April, while we’re at it.

The Bulls brass sold everyone on a full rebuild after trading Jimmy Butler one year ago, with an unspoken promise that this draft would bear franchise-changing fruit—hence the general feeling of angst or even indifference with the solid selection of Wendell Carter Jr. and their not-so-secret affection of Chandler Hutchison.

It was why fans believe the Bulls got cold feet about trading to move up, and why they believe the Bulls weren’t being pragmatic in staying away from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter, some believe, has star written all over him given his prep ranking this time last year and the Bulls were in position to speed up this process without having to go into a painful Process.

They were desperate for a star, believing the tankathon had produced so much suffering it had to be something on the back end.

There was the fight (or the punch).

The aftermath.

The miserable 3-20 start.

The 14-7 streak that produced the audacity of hope.

The reality that 14-7 was damaging enough to the lottery chances that a 3-11 finish couldn’t rectify.

And finally, the coin flip that cost them five spots in the lottery one month ago.

So that empty feeling has less to do with Carter and Hutchison, who’ve done nothing to earn the “blah” reaction from the fan base and some media. It has everything to do with the unanswered questions over the last 82 games and lack of clarity over the three hauls from draft night last year.

It’s not that Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn underperformed individually last season, but the lack of cohesiveness due to injuries and circumstances has led to the varying thoughts.

LaVine is approaching restricted free agency and by all accounts is taking his continuing rehab in Washington very seriously.  Markkanen has added plenty of muscle since the offseason began, appearing as if he can play Michael B. Jordan’s in-ring foil in the next installation of “Creed” as Ivan Drago’s long lost son.

And despite the report about Dunn not working as hard on the floor this offseason, that would be more of a concern if this were late August, not June.

The last time they were seen together on the floor, they looked no closer to a pecking order than the day they arrived.

What we know is that they’re productive NBA players, capable of putting an individual tattoo on a game at a moment’s notice, skillful enough to take your breath away.

And for whatever reason, the expectations changed once the three displayed they could be dynamic on their own—a star needed to be anointed and groomed to go with the star they believed was coming their way after the season.

Management is fully behind Markkanen, but Paxson’s strong words about LaVine at the season-ending news conference illustrated how much it feels LaVine has to prove next season.

With his restricted free agency status looming, the Bulls’ initial offer will show how much they value him until and if he gets a better deal on the market.

And the fact the Bulls weren’t afraid to draft Trae Young while having a healthy debate about Collin Sexton on draft night has to show they have at least some skepticism about the future at point guard.

But stars—developing stars, acquired stars, drafted stars—have to do it on their own. No amount of promotion or prodding from management will validate their faith, if that’s the route the Bulls choose to go.

This has to be a meritocracy or it won’t work and, honestly, it’s time for a reality check.

All the worry about the Bulls getting back to title contention sooner rather than later seems like folks getting ahead of themselves.

The front office has taken its share of shots from media and fans, so some questioning is earned but they’re right about one thing. Rebuilds aren’t completed in a day or 12 months.

Expecting some magic potion to arrive in the form of a top draft pick isn’t going to cure what ills this roster, and it doesn’t seem likely all the cap space will result in a free agent choosing the Bulls over the usual suspects.

However, methodical building can look like complacency if not done with a sense of urgency.

And with urgency in mind, this past season was unsatisfying to say the least—heading into the next phase with two more young pieces to develop while the first three are still in the evaluation stage.

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Donte Ingram's 2018 keeps getting better and better.

The March Madness hero, who buried a game-winning 3-pointer in the first round of Loyola's win over Miami, will play on the Bulls' Summer League team.

Ingram, a Simeon Academy graduate, had himself an incredible senior season with the Ramblers, who advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

In five NCAA Tournament games Ingram averaged 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Ramblers. He also had 18 points in the MVC Conference Championship Game to secure the Ramblers' March Madness berth.

He'll join first-round draft picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison on the Las Vegas Summer League team, which will begin play early next month.