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Building on Grayson Allen’s Bubble marksmanship

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He’s earned a long, hard look.

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Boston Celtics v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Grayson Allen’s 3-point shooting in the bubble was one of the nicest storylines for the Memphis Grizzlies’ restart run. In 9 games, he shot a sizzling 47.1 percent from 3 on 50 total attempts (5.7 per game), providing a real boost offensively for the short-handed Grizzlies.

Building on Allen’s bubble performance was always going to be important this season. However, as the Grizzlies are expecting to miss both Jaren Jackson Jr. and Justise Winslow, it’s going to become more vital for Allen to pick up where he left off from deep. While I’m not expecting him to take more of a go-to scoring role, the Grizzlies’ offensive structure and plethora of playmakers allows for good shooters like Allen to thrive.

In fact, they need to look to use him similarly to two players I’ve compared Grayson Allen’s trajectory to: Joe Harris and JJ Redick.

I chronicled this comparison briefly in his player review, and the year 1-3 arcs for each player aren’t much different. I used this to show that shooters’ leaps and primes could take place later in age, as Harris was around 26 in his breakout as a resident sniper, and Redick’s experienced his best pro days in his 30’s.

Though he’s a 25-year old third-year player, Allen has room to grow and could potentially evolve into a great 3-point shooter. If he could build upon that performance, he could have a long career and make an impact in Memphis for the duration of his rookie contract.

Sustaining that momentum is also on Taylor Jenkins and company, and they could start by using him similarly to Joe Harris and JJ Redick.


Spot-up Opportunities

Grayson Allen was one of the best spot-up shooters last season, as he was 7th 3-point percentage (44.7%) on catch-and-shoot tries — among players with 3+ 3PA/game. This is where Allen is more comparable to Redick and Harris, as they have similar percentages and shot frequencies.

Grayson vs. Harris/JJ C&S Freq & %

Player Catch and Shoot 3P% 3PA/G Freq
Player Catch and Shoot 3P% 3PA/G Freq
Grayson Allen 44.70% 3.00 45.40%
Joe Harris 44.60% 4.50 39.90%
JJ Redick 40.20% 4.20 47.20%
nba.com/stats shot dashboard

Though he doesn’t have the sample size these two possess in terms of games played, the per-game numbers and percentages line up quite well.

It’s also easy to see this shooting performance as sustainable, because of the playmakers around him, regardless of his role in the rotation. If he starts (which isn’t a crazy outcome, there will probably be more about that on this blog), he’d benefit from playing off Ja Morant, who’s already a top-10 playmaker in the league. In addition, he’d have a high-IQ player like Kyle Anderson or Brandon Clarke at the 4, and a great screen-assister in Jonas Valanciunas in the 5. In a bench role, he’s surrounded by Tyus Jones (arguably the best floor general of backup point guards), one of De’Anthony Melton and Desmond Bane, one of Anderson and Clarke, and Xavier Tillman.

Whoever he’s played with, Allen should find a lot of looks off drive and kick’s, as the Grizzlies are in the top-10 in both assists/game (4.8, 8th) and assist percentage (9.9, 10th) off drives. And with the playmakers around him, he could find a lot of open looks from beyond the arc.

The Memphis Grizzlies have multiple playmakers across all 5 positions. As those creators look to attack, they could generate gravity from the defense to find shooters like Allen out for wide-open trey’s.


Mimicking Redick and Harris

Grayson Allen isn’t the pull-up shooter that Harris or Redick is, but he can be used similarly to them in dribble hand-offs, off screens, and off 1-dribble pull-ups.

Allen finished in the top-25 in points per possession off screens (1.17), while boasting a effective field goal percentage of 63.9% in those plays. While that accounts for 2-point baskets as well, it highlights his decision-making and shot-creation acumen off screens.

Both Harris and Redick are exceptional coming off screens and firing from deep, due to their high elevation and quick releases on their jumpers. What Allen could take from both players is the one-dribble pull-up off screens. Both players were in the top 10 in 3-point attempts off one-dribble (Redick, 2nd with 91; Harris, 6th with 76). Allen’s volume was low, as he only shot 15 one-dribble 3’s, but he also connected on 40% of them. Incorporating that into his game could allow him to gain the separation necessary for a clean look from deep, which is vital given he doesn’t have the prototypical measurements of the ideal wing. Harris and Redick are examples of two smaller wings that added that to their bags to generate better looks from outside.

If Grayson Allen could add this to his 3-point reporotirie, he’d become a more potent perimeter threat, both as a shooter and a live-dribble playmaker.


Memphis Grizzlies v Toronto Raptors Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Once the regular season resumes, we’ll see the validity of the bubble performances — a common storyline as the atmosphere generated unprecedented factors in terms of gameplay.

For Grayson Allen, his job is to build off that hot-shooting stretch to break out in the Grizzlies’ crowded wing rotation. The coaching staff’s job is to put him in positions where he could find clean looks in rhythm in hopes he rekindles his touch from the bubble.

And we really don’t know what to expect either.

While he had the bubble percentages and a strong December from deep (48.9% on 45 attempts), he also had sub-30 percent months from deep in his injury-riddled stretch. It could be a bubble thing, but it’s important for the Grizzlies to make sure it’s sustainable.

The good news for Allen is, there’s a precedent for shooters to have their value and production skyrocket, despite being older prospects — Redick, Harris, Duncan Robinson, to name a few from recent memory.

3-point shooting is a necessity in today’s NBA. 40-percent 3-point shooters are a premium in today’s NBA, and having one on a rookie-scale deal for 2 more seasons is a luxury.

As the Grizzlies are currently looking for players to have complement Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. for the next great Memphis team, Grayson Allen is a guy who could stick with them... especially if he continues throwing flames from deep.

Stats and clips found on nba.com/stats and basketball-reference.com.

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