Writer: Andrew Martin
Love Him, or Hate Him, Grayson Allen is a First-Rounder
Grayson Allen is beginning his fourth, and final season at Duke, and in his time being there he’s made quite a bit of noise. During his freshman season at Duke, he saw minimal playing time due to the great guard play of Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook. However, in the national championship against Wisconsin, he exploded onto the CBB landscape with 16 points, and fueling the comeback that eventually lead Duke to their 5th National Title. In the following years he put up solid numbers, but as everyone knows, he had the tripping incidents which led to conflicts both on and off the court. Due to this Allen became heavily criticized and was looked at as someone who wouldn’t be taken in the first round of the draft because he was a “risky” selection. As a new season of College Basketball starts up, I will show why Grayson Allen deserves to be a first-round pick in next year’s NBA draft.
First, let’s look at his numbers, in his sophomore season Allen averaged 36 minutes and 21 points a game. Along with these numbers, he shot the ball very efficiently with a 46.6 FG% and 41.7 3PT%. Obviously, when you look at those numbers and think about how college basketball is shaped today, you would have expected him to enter the draft after that season. However, if you follow college basketball, you know that this is when the tripping incidents began with Grayson Allen. On February 8, 2016 Duke was hosting Louisville, and with 14:00 left in the game Allen drove to the hoop. He missed the layup and proceeded to fall on the ground. O0ut of frustration he reached out his right leg and tripped Louisville’s Ray Spalding who had just gotten the rebound. Later that month, Allen tripped Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes, and the internet blew up. At this point, a pattern had been established, and while most basketball fans already hate Duke, this only added fuel to the fire. For the remainder of the season, Allen and the Duke staff were scrutinized for these incidents, ultimately distracting from Allen’s performance and causing him to stay another year.
Now in his Junior season, Grayson Allen returned looking to put up similar numbers, get his degree, and get to the League. However, just over a month into the season, Duke faced Elon, and as Elon’s Steven Santa Ana drove baseline, Allen stuck out his leg and tripped him as Santa Ana spun to the ground. Allen got called for the foul, stormed to the bench, and pounded his fist into a chair while screaming. As if the rest of the nation didn’t hate him enough, they now had even more reason to, and twitter was full of Grayson Allen memes mocking his temper tantrum. Allen was given an indefinite suspension which only lasted one game, and led to the argument on if he was bad for Basketball. Despite these distractions, Allen continued the season with an attitude that he had to prove everyone wrong. He went on to average 14.5 PPG game, while shooting 39.5% from the field, and 36.5% from behind the arc. Statistically, Allen’s worst year as a Blue Devil not including his freshmen year where he saw very few minutes. However, while it was his worst year, he was always the most important guy on the floor for Duke, he’s the brains of the offense and defense, and everything ran through him. Duke also had guys like Jayson Tatum, and Luke Kennard last season who both put up high point totals, taking away from Allen’s scoring production.
Now, we’ve gotten to the present, Allen comes into his senior year as the key factor on this stacked Duke team. The Blue Devils are AP #1 and title favorites, and that is greatly due to the play of Allen, with his scoring and distributing ability. Over the offseason he did multiple interviews with media sources like ESPN talking about his tripping incidents, and how he wants to put that behind him and just play basketball. Eight games into the 2017-18 season, he has done just, averaging 16.9 PPG, and shooting 45.1% from the field, along with a very reliable 42.9% from deep. Including a career high 37-point game against the #2 team in the nation Michigan State. Since the MSU game, Allen has cooled off while dealing with a slight wrist injury, but his leadership on and off the court helped lead Duke to a PK80 Championship. While Allen has had a great start to his senior campaign, his continued success depends on his ability to control his emotions. Duke will face many difficult road games where he will be a target for the opposing fan base, and they will try to provoke him, if Allen can control his emotions and play solid basketball then it will be smooth sailing the rest of the way.
Grayson Allen has the numbers to be a first-rounder, along with the drive it takes to get there. Everything from lockdown defense, to explosive dunks, an incredible improvement to his shooting ability, and most importantly, his ability to lead and handle game pressure. Allen has had one of the most interesting college careers of recent years, and when April rolls around, don’t be shocked if you see Grayson Allen lead Duke to their sixth National title. After that, watch as Allen is picked in the first round of the NBA Draft, capping off his exciting Duke career.