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Memphis Grizzlies 2019-20 Player Previews: Grayson Allen

The Godfather of Grit N Grimey?

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies-Media Day Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Is it a coincidence that players who play for Memphis with the last name Allen are ultra competitive, scrappy players, maybe even to a fault at times?

Tripping people on the court...doesn’t that sound familiar with the last guy we had need Allen?

Now Grayson maybe a little more excessive and unwarranted, but then he gives you the potential for a 40-point game! Grayson is nowhere near as mature as the other Allen, as the Duke alum comes with on-court meltdowns. Hate it or love it, it all makes for a great way to sum up the good, bad, and ugly of new Memphis Grizzlies acquisition, and second-year player, Grayson Allen.

Last season Mike Conley finally had his first and only 40-point game on a lottery team, after 13 years in the league. Shortly after, Grayson Allen matched Conley’s career high game in his rookie season on a playoff team in a game versus another playoff team.

Let that soak in for a moment.

Ironically, the two ended up being traded for each other in what is looking like a great haul overall for Memphis. Grayson Allen the questionable character, for Mike Conley the gold standard of class act. Allen has the potential to make good on his career.

As a freshman at Duke, Grayson developed a reputation of being a scrappy defender. He even defended guys full court at times and won over the hearts of many with his “grit and grind” style of play. He was handsome, fiery, charismatic, very animated & evenly talented.

At 6’4”, he showed all-around potential, which also included explosive hops with fancy finishing, a smooth shooting stroke, and solid ball-handling with both hands. As Duke won the national championship his freshman season, his future shined bright as a diamond. Then came his next few seasons, which showed him display some of the same potential but also showed him regress gradually on defense, which one can argue would only be expected as his role expanded in the offense.

2018-19 Overview

Grayson Allen had a very pedestrian rookie campaign with the Utah Jazz, averaging roughly six points and barely even registering on the stat sheet for assists and rebounds. Not to mention, he shot only 38% from the field in 10 minutes per game. His Per-36 minutes has him averaging around 18 points per game, however, efficiency would’ve came at a premium with his shooting percentages across the board.

On the positive side, the confidence is clearly there, according to his shot attempts. Another good thing to note that furthers Allen’s promise as a shot creator is, that at the end of the season against the L.A. Clippers, Allen’s shot-creating and assertiveness was on full display to the tune of 40 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in the regular season finale.

Projected Role

Grayson Allen is a winner and very talented prospect. However, he’s fighting for minutes and for the team to pick up his team option. First, he needs to improve is his efficiency. His basic stat line over 38 games in the NBA has him averaging roughly six points per game at 38% from the field, which is not good to say the least. Virtually half of those shots were three-point attempts, so that explains the low percentage, but he only shot around 32% from three. So one has to question why he kept settling for so many three-point attempts? Was Grayson chucking up shots, or was he in a lot of catch-and-shoot from three situations? Or was he forced to take mostly three point shots, because the Utah Jazz roster had very few — if any — other consistent shooters aside from Joe Ingles?

One thing to consider is that his per-36-minute stats has him averaging 18 points per game, which shows some promise as a scorer with his shot-creating ability and his will to consistently score. His 40-point game at the end of last season also shows promise as a tireless, high-volume scorer.

At his shooting guard position, there are several guys on the team who could play those minutes, but none have a lock on minutes yet, especially with Josh Jackson starting the season in Southaven. When Tyus Jones was signed this summer, there was mention of the 6’1” pass-first Jones playing alongside Ja Morant, which makes sense with his improvement as a shooter and very good defensive prowess.

I expect Grayson to back up Dillon Brooks early on, but with Brooks’ recent run-ins with injuries, if he misses time or is limited in minutes, I can very well see Grayson getting the majority share of those minutes. Ja Morant, also being an elite passer and floor general, will need a tireless scorer who can run and be ready to shoot in fast-break situations, no questions asked. Needless to say, Ja will only create more looks for Allen and allow him to thrive like never before, with Ja also serving as the scoring distraction and space creator Ricky Rubio couldn’t even dream of being for Allen in Utah.

2019-20 Best Case Scenario

It must be noted that Grayson can be very marketable not only here in Memphis but also nationally with his boyish looks, charisma, edgy competitiveness, and flashy playing style. He has the potential to be everything Memphians hoped for from Chandler Parsons and then some.

Like the city of Memphis, Grayson is a gritty player, who doesn’t back down and can identify with the culture our city has branded but with his own twist, The Godfather of “Grit N Grimey” — thus endearing himself to the Grizzlies fan base in the way of the last 6’4” wing player by the last name of Allen.

I can very well see a situation where Grayson becomes a good scorer - maybe even the leading scorer, depending on Jaren Jackson Jr and Ja Morant’s assertiveness on the team’s shot chart. When it comes to athleticism, skill, shot-creating and willingess to shoot, Grayson Allen may be the most qualified of the bunch, despite his rookie production. He has proven he’s a willing shot-taker, if nothing else, and Ja will need guys he can rely on to “Let It Fly” without hesitation — which is essentially what Grayson does if nothing else.

With that said and the glaring holes at shooting guard, there is a chance best case we can see Allen average around 18 points at 30 minutes per game. I can also see him regaining the reputation he had as at Duke as a scrappy defender. His play thus far in preseason has definitely heightened the hopes of fans clamoring for a Grayson Allen ascension.

2019-20 Worst Case Scenario

Grayson Allen struggles with efficiency, gets into trouble, or both. As a result, finds himself either in the G-League or rotting away at the end of the bench and becomes another player hated by locals. If Allen struggles to win the favor of his teammates and coaches, he will certainly have trouble. I mean seriously who would want him around if he can’t score buckets within the flow of the offense, or isn’t willing to hold his own defensively?

Only time will tell, and fortunately that time is now.

New Zealand Breakers v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images

Overall Expectation

I expect Grayson’s early preseason performances to translate into the regular season, as his rookie per-36 number indicated anyway. I also expect Grayson to work harder to regain his reputation as a scrappy defender and win over the hearts of many in the “beautifulest land in the world!” as Memphians now say.

Expect him to split the shooting guard minutes with the likes of a Dillon Brooks, especially with Josh Jackson being sent down to Goodman Road. A fastbreak style “Let It Fly” attack with Ja, Jaren Jackson Jr., Grayson, Brandon Clarke and Dillon Brooks can potentially become the face of Memphis basketball in its new future. I know I can get used to that, with Ed Memphis’ latest single “Project Pat (Memphis)” playing in the background.

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