Coming into this summer, Grayson Allen was preparing for his second season in the league, hoping to land a rotation spot with the upstart, contending Utah Jazz. He didn’t see consistent playing time his rookie season, only appearing in 38 outings and averaging 5.6 points, 0.6 rebounds, and 0.7 assists in 10.9 minutes per game. Praised for his 3-point shooting in college, Allen struggled to find his touch from the field in his first year, only hitting 37.6 percent of his field goal attempts and 32.3 percent of his 3-point attempts.
One morning in June, Allen was working out in Utah, until he was called into Quin Snyder’s office to be informed that he was being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies.
“It was obviously a shock for me at first when I was traded,” Allen said. “After that shock, a few hours go by, and you’re like, ‘Ok, Memphis it is! Let’s get ready, let’s get going, let’s see what we got.’ So just excitement for me around being there.”
Grayson Allen had a lot to be excited about. For one, he gets to play with Ja Morant and Duke teammate Tyus Jones, as he pointed out how big it is to have two pass-first point guards of their caliber initiating the offense.
“Ja gets picked in the draft, and it’s like ‘Ok, I get to play alongside [an] electric, fast, fun point guard’.” Allen later said of the rookie point guard, “Ja plays with the pass. You know, he can get by people and score at the rim, but he’s also a great passer.”
He, then, proceeded to praise his former backcourt mate at Duke, calling him an “incredibly steady point guard” that always makes the right plays and passes.
In addition, more importantly, Allen is excited to enter a fresh scenery where he could find more opportunities to showcase his talents. With that eagerness to prove himself to his new team, Allen asked himself these three questions:
- How can I fit in there?
- How can I carve myself out a role?
- How can I compete and do what Coach Jenkins wants me to do?
He tied all of it into defense, shooting, and attacking off the dribble.
“For me, it’s improving on the defensive end,” Allen said. “[And] I built a lot of good habits last year. I didn’t get much playing time to show that I had those, but hopefully — preseason and once the regular season comes around — those habits will stick with me, and I’ll implement them. Offensively, being able to shoot and attack off the ball.”
At Summer League, Allen flashed the potential to provide a boost in these areas. Though his scuffle with Grant Williams shadows it, Allen made some big defensive plays at Summer League. The biggest one is his deflection of the inbound to seal the title. He also made a huge chase-down block and a swipe at the rim that turned into him going coast-to-coast for a bucket. Offensively, his shot wasn’t falling, but he showed nice poise creating out of the pick-and-roll in the in-between game.
Carrying those habits, while also improving his outside shot, will go a long way into solidifying his role on this team. Minutes on the wing and the starting shooting guard spot are up for the taking, and Allen could be a beneficiary of this opportunity.
And it is opportunity that could revamp Grayson Allen’s career, transform him into a legitimate NBA player, and show his critics that the “old Grayson Allen” is no more.
Grayson really harped on the mental aspect of this game. Though it was at the discretion of the questions being asked, he held himself accountable and was transparent with his sins. He recognizes that these fouls can come across as dirty, and he’s trying to harness his anger through mediation.
Beyond the X’s and O’s and the shot form and defensive rotations, what matters most for Grayson is channeling that competitive energy into confidence in his game. He has the tools to be a three-level scorer that can also push the ball and create for others. He’s also flashed potential as an above-average defender. If he lets outside forces affect his game, he may not have the opportunity to showcase his talents.
Memphis is the land of opportunity, as we’ve seen players like Zach Randolph, James Johnson, and Lance Stephenson take advantage of it to extend their career and take it to new heights — all to different extremes, obviously. Especially in this rebuilding period, Grayson Allen has the opportunity to do the same thing. If he can capitalize on it, everything changes for him.
He can land a big role as a key contributor next to Jaren Jackson Jr., Ja Morant, and Brandon Clarke.
He can change his public perception.
He could also become beloved in Memphis.
Between the trade, Summer League, and training, Grayson Allen has prepared all summer for this opportunity in more ways than one. He’s trained to become a more well-rounded player, one that can thrive next to Ja and Tyus in Coach Jenkins’ “pace-and-space” system. At the same time, he’s acknowledges his mistakes and looks to work on them.
He has a shot to showcase his talent. Will he capture it, or just let it slip?
Stats found on basketball-reference.