Duke’s Grayson Allen shows Jazz during workout why he was such a huge NBA Combine hit
Grayson Allen, from Duke, participates in the NBA draft basketball combine Thursday, May 17, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Grayson Allen is a pretty good basketball player.
That much has never been in question. The former Duke University star can rotate seamlessly between point guard and shooting guard. He’s every bit of 6-foot-5 and Jazz officials say he has NBA athleticism. He’s equal parts good shooter and threat off the dribble. As the pre-draft process rolls on, he’s receiving comparisons to Bobby Sura, who played in the NBA for 10 seasons in the late 1990s as a high-scoring guard.
“Grayson is definitely an NBA athlete,” Jazz VP of Player Personnel Walt Perrin said.
The questions with Allen lie in his maturity. At Duke, he developed a nasty reputation as an irritant at best and as a dirty player at worst. He hasn’t always reacted well when things haven’t gone his way. Heck, he even had a highly publicized on-court spat with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell
, when Mitchell was at Louisville.
Teams aren’t judging Allen on the irritant part. The Jazz have multiple players — Joe Ingles and Jae Crowder — who fit that role. And Golden State forward Draymond Green is one of the most well-known irritants in the NBA.
But, if Allen is going to play in the league with an edge, or if he’s going to straddle the edge, he’s going to have to prove he can play at a high level. And the Jazz are convinced he has a chance to, which is why Allen is very much in consideration for Utah when it picks at No. 21 in the upcoming draft.
JAZZ WORKOUT HIGHLIGHTS<br>• Jalen Brunson is the son of Rick Brunson, who played at Temple University and in the NBA.<br>• Aaron Holiday was All-Pac 12 first team and led the Pac-12 in scoring. He is the younger brother of Jrue and Justin Holiday, both NBA players.<br>• Malik Pope strained his quad early in the workout, but kept playing.
Allen had one of the best combine workouts of any prospect. He tested and interviewed extremely well. At 6-5, he played point guard at Duke in his final two seasons, which has helped his stock. His shuttle at the NBA’s redraft combine was 3.04, second best in the field. And that time — which measures lateral quickness — leads many in the league to believe Allen has a chance to be a plus-defender. He also posted a 40.5 inch vertical leap, which was the sixth best in the field.
Translation: Allen is one of the best pure athletes in this draft.
“I was obviously happy with what I did at the combine,” Allen said. “I thought I could’ve jumped higher, but everything else was good. Athletically, people have seen me for four years at Duke, so they knew what to expect. I played point guard my last two years at Duke. I can continue to do that at the next level, but I still feel like I’m at my best off the ball.”
Monday’s workout may have been the most talented and deepest the Jazz have held in a long time, Perrin said.
UCLA star Aaron Holiday, Villanova star Jalen Brunson and Creighton star Khyri Thomas were all in attendance. The Jazz say they are considering all four at No. 21. San Diego State star Malik Pope and Louisville big man Ray Spalding were also in attendance.
Perrin said the depth was good for the competition. Brunson and Holiday matched up together. Allen and Thomas — who is considered one of the best wing defenders in the draft — matched up.
Allen, according to the Jazz, had dominant stretches. Brunson, whose father, Rick, played in the NBA for a decade, reminded the Jazz a bit of Toronto point guard Fred Van Vleet.
“I just wanted to compete and to play hard,” Brunson said. “I wanted to be aggressive every time I stepped on the floor. I want to work my butt off. These guys are all good. They are supposed to be here. They’ve earned the right to be here. So, I knew this workout was going to be really good.”
Ultimately, Allen and Thomas may fit more of what the Jazz want than Holiday and Brunson. Allen and Thomas both possess the ability to play and defend multiple positions. Holiday — the younger brother of NBA guards Jrue and Justin Holiday — is helped by a long wingspan. But he and Brunson are pretty much point guards and only point guards.
Still, for the Jazz, getting all four in for a workout was a boon. With less than three weeks remaining until the draft, Utah wants to see as many good players as it can.
JAZZ WORKOUT PARTICIPANTS<br>• Grayson Allen, 6-5 shooting guard, Duke.<br>• Malik Pope, 6-10 power forward, San Diego State.<br>• Ray Spalding, 6-10 power forward, Louisville.<br>• Aaron Holiday, 6-1 point guard, UCLA.<br>• Jalen Brunson, 6-2 point guard, Villanova.<br>• Jalen Brunson, 6-2 point guard, Villanova