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Fits with Jaren and Ja: Grayson Allen

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Love him or hate him, the former Blue Devil may stick in Memphis

NBA: Summer League-Memphis Grizzlies at Minnesota Timberwolves Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be breaking down some young players and their fits next to Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant, while addressing the likelihood of them being on the next Memphis Grizzlies playoff team. So far GBB has covered the fits of Josh Jackson, Kyle Anderson, Dillon Brooks and Brandon Clarke. Next up — Everyone’s favorite Blue Devil, Grayson Allen.

Grayson Allen is only 23 years old, yet it feels like we’ve been watching him play basketball for much longer.

Allen had an up and down Duke career, with the highs being an NCAA champion in 2015, second team All-American in 2016 and making the All-ACC team in 2016 and 2018. The lows saw Allen caught up in drama with his seemingly intentional tripping of players in a couple of games.

After a mostly quiet year in Utah with the Jazz (and their G League affiliate, the Stars) Allen reminded NBA fans of his college antics with a flagrant foul on Boston’s Grant Williams. To some, it was Allen hustling hard and not giving up on a play, to others it was the same ol’ dirty Grayson Allen.

Allen showed signs of being a solid NBA player last season after being taken with the 21st overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft by the Utah Jazz. He appeared in 38 games, averaging 5.6 points in just under 11 minutes per game. His numbers were limited by mostly playing during garbage time, but Allen still showed flashes of a competent NBA player as recent as this summer en route to helping the Grizzlies win the Las Vegas Summer League.

With shooting guard minutes wide open for the Grizzlies heading into the season, Allen has a great chance to prove his worth next to Jaren and Ja.


NBA: Summer League-Memphis Grizzlies at Minnesota Timberwolves Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Fits next to Jaren and Ja

Allen figures to be a nice fit alongside Jaren and Ja. His solid 3-point shooting (career 38% at Duke) allows him to be a nice spot up option on Jaren/Ja kickouts. Grayson also has the ability to create his own shot which could help take some of the pressure off of Jaren and Ja. He is also a good enough ball handler to be able to work some pick-and-roll with Jaren and either attack the rim or dish it off to Jaren for the basket.

Defensively, a backcourt of Ja and Grayson isn’t great. Neither is an elite defender, putting more defensive pressure on guys like Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke down low. Still, the offensive potential of a Morant-Allen backcourt could make up for the defensive deficiencies, especially since both Morant and Allen have the potential to be solid defenders.

With just one year of NBA experience, it’s hard to tell who exactly Allen is as an NBA player. If he reaches his potential, Allen can be a great fit alongside Jaren and Ja. However, last years version of Allen may not be enough for him to stick around in Memphis.


NBA: Summer League-Memphis Grizzlies at Minnesota Timberwolves Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Can he be on the Next Great Grizzlies Team?

Whether or not Allen can live up to his potential will determine if he’ll be on the next great Grizzlies team. If he reaches his capabilities, Allen can be a solid starting two-guard, or even an good scoring option off the bench. There are likely better options to start alongside Ja Morant next season, but Allen’s ability to thrive without dominating the ball could separate him from guys like Dillon Brooks and De’Anthony Melton.

Grayson has a team option on his contract for the next two season before becoming a restricted free agent in 2022. Since he’ll cost the Grizzlies less than $5 million, it would be shocking if he doesn’t at least make it through his contract. Will the Grizzlies be great by 2022? Probably not, but if Allen plays well enough with the squad and meshes well with Jaren and Ja, they’ll likely match any respectable offer in Allen’s free agency.

Some Grizzlies fans may not want Allen to be long for the Grizzlies due to the (sometimes overblown) issues he had at Duke, but I personally believe that Memphis can help Allen rebuild his image and that he will be around for the next Grizzlies playoff team.


Grayson Allen had gotten past his ghosts at Duke until he picked up a flagrant foul against Grant Williams this past summer. Frankly, if any other player had been in Allens shoes it would have been a non-story. Allen, though, has a dirty reputation and it isn’t easy to shake that type of reputation.

Regardless of you opinion on if he is or is not a dirty player, it’s hard to ignore the talent that Allen has. He obviously has to live up to that potential to stick around in Memphis, but with (probably) 3 years to prove himself I think Allen shows us he’s matured and grows into a heck of a ball player. If it works, the Mike Conley trade looks even better for the Grizzlies. If it doesn’t, the Grizzlies shouldn’t take any blame for taking a flyer on a former first round pick.

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