Although Grayson Allen got his first taste of NBA action in the preseason, he hadn’t really known what it as like to be a professional basketball player.
With 2:58 left in the third quarter of the Utah Jazz’s 92-84 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, that all changed.
Allen made his official NBA debut against the Grizzles. He scored his first NBA points on two free throws just before the end of the third, and finished the game with seven points, making both of his shot attempts in 11 minutes.
Allen said he didn’t feel the same nerves he felt when he played in the preseason.
“I was really just kind of really excited to be out there,” Allen said. “I’ve just been ready for whenever my opportunity was going to come from coach, and it came. I felt like I was ready for it.”
Allen entered the game at a juncture where the Jazz trailed the Grizzlies by seven. Ricky Rubio said Allen provided an offensive spark after Utah had been struggling offensively all night.
“He came ready and scored for us in a night that nobody was really scoring,” Rubio said.
Allen said he was definitely trying to provide a spark when his named was called. He was disappointed with committing two quick fouls just moments after he entered the game, and felt those miscues affected the momentum of the game.
“In both of those situations, if we come up with a stop instead of a foul, that’s something that can turn the game around,” Allen said.
Allen made a corner 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter, after which the crowd erupted in cheers. He said his two made free throws beforehand helped put him in a rhythm.
“As a shooter, it kind of helps with the touch,” Allen said. “It helps with your confidence a little bit.”
With 1:20 left in the game, he faked a shot and drove past his defender for a tomahawk dunk. More thunderous applause.
“That’s how you have to go up to finish or else you’ll get blocked,” Allen said of the dunk.
Allen said he understands there will be nights throughout the season where he won’t see the floor and nights he will.
“It’s up to me to just stay ready whenever my name is called,” Allen said.
The Jazz picked Allen 21st in the NBA Draft over the summer. He played college basketball at Duke University, where he spent four years.