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.”