For a good chunk of NBA players, their first professional season is all about adjustments. Adapting to a new city/teammates, the speed/physicality of the game, increased travel, etc.
Another major change is going from being mostly revered in any arena you step inside to instantly becoming a target of fans’ abuse away from home.
That won’t be a problem for Duke product Grayson Allen. He was the subject of just about every taunt imaginable during his four years as a Blue Devil. And while a lot of the criticism he brought on himself, Allen has matured and now simply lets his game do the talking.
Allen’s biggest asset is that he’s a chameleon on the court.
You need him to provide a spark on a team full of stars? He becomes the energizing sixth man like his freshman season when Duke won a national title. Want him to be your go-to scorer? He turns up the offense such as his sophomore campaign when he averaged 21.6 points a game on 46.6 percent shooting. Need him to run the show? Allen morphs into a primary playmaker similar to his senior year when he recorded a career-high 4.6 assists.
In all, Allen posted 14.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steal a night during his collegiate career. He also proved to be a capable long-range shooter as he connected on 38.0 percent of his three-pointers.
Not bad for a guy that was under constant scrutiny because …
… Allen couldn’t control his emotions on the floor.
There were the well-documented tripping incidents and ensuing suspension. Allen also was known to lose his cool on the bench when things weren’t going his way between the lines.
“It’s something that comes from my competitiveness,” Allen said to reporters at the combine. “Competitiveness that I’ve had as a player, competitiveness that was pointed in the wrong direction and went over the line. It’s obviously something that I needed to work on.”
And while the Jacksonville, Florida, native was able to finally get his emotions under control, he’s only going to be tested even more at the next level by trash-talking players and fans.
In addition, the fact that Allen stayed at Duke for all four years is viewed as a bit of a knock in the NBA. While he tested the waters multiple times, his decision to remain in Durham is seen in some circles that the now-22-year-old was never fully comfortable making the leap in competition.
A hated Duke player that plays the shooting guard position? Has to be JJ Redick, right?
While there are certainly some comparable experiences between Allen and Redick, that’s not an actual basketball link we’re ready to make. Instead, Allen is much more in the mold of Miami guard Tyler Johnson. Both players have sneaky athleticism, can handle the ball and stretch their jumpers out to the three-point line well enough for opposing defenses to respect their range.
How he’d fit with Sixers
The Sixers hosted Allen for a private workout earlier this month under the watchful eye of then-president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo. While Colangelo has since resigned, the team’s interest in Allen still makes sense.
He would be able to spot up alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to knock down open shots, while also being able to take on the burden of ball-handling duties when asked.
He may struggle to stay in front of some of the quicker players in the NBA, but he does have the explosion at the basket to make up for it and one of the best rim protecters in the game in Embiid if he gets completely beaten by his man.
Allen’s name can be found popping up for teams selecting anywhere from the early 20s to early in the second round. If his name is still on the board at No. 26 and the Sixers are still holding onto that pick, they will give some consideration to choosing the versatile guard.