Grayson Allen hasn’t been able to find the floor much this season, and it’s not a mystery why: In a crowded guard rotation, his defense hasn’t typically been up to the standard of his competition.
So far, Allen has the worst on-court defensive rating when he has played, though it’s still a small sample that is heavily skewed by one awful night in Dallas. But that Allen is last is not necessarily a surprise: Rookies typically struggle in the NBA on the defensive end badly, as there are just situations that they haven’t defended before that all of a sudden they have to help out on.
“Have you guarded a pick-the-picker situation? And how do you help on the post? There’s so much going on in your mind mentally, and when you’re not instinctive in an area, it’s harder to be good at it,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder explained. “It just takes time. Beyond time, it takes commitment.”
And even with the scenarios young players have faced before, there are old habits from old teams to consider. Yes, Allen went to Duke, Snyder’s alma mater, but that certainly doesn’t mean the two programs handle things similarly on the defensive end.
“There’s muscle memory. Sometimes it’s harder to undo habits that guys may have before they got here. I think everybody does things differently,” Snyder said.
The Jazz know that Allen’s success or failure on the basketball court will be dependent on his ability to at least be capable on defense. Before he was drafted, that was probably his biggest question mark going into the league. But Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey felt Snyder could teach him what he needs to learn, and it’s going to be a process to get there.
In practice, that means defensive drills. Allen will play 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 against various Jazz teammates while coaches watch and give tips on improving. Then, he’s frequently a part of the Jazz’s live practices, where he’s getting 5-on-5 chances to fit in to the team concept. In the midst of a road trip, those 5-on-5 chances are sometimes rare, though.
Donovan Mitchell visits his sister
After Saturday’s win, the Jazz stayed the night in Boston in order to rest. That gave Donovan Mitchell an unusual chance: He drove about 30 minutes to North Andover to watch his sister, Jordan, play in her high school championship soccer game.
“First time seeing her play in high school. My old history teacher was there, and I saw the athletic director and trainers again," Mitchell said. "It was pretty special to see that, and even though they lost, it was pretty cool.”