Grayson Allen started out as a high school star. According to his Wikipedia page, he won a Florida State Championship in 2013, was a 2014 McDonald’s All-American, and won the McDonald’s All-American Slam Dunk Contest that year with a slam that involved jumping over a younger Jahlil Okafor. After accepting an offer from Duke, Grayson made the ACC all-academic team all four of his years there, and graduated with an undergraduate degree in psychology. He has said in the past that after his basketball career, he may want to look at pursuing sports psychology. It stands to reason that he is an intelligent person on and off the court.
In his time playing for Duke, Grayson filled many different roles, playing multiple years for a roster that changed dramatically from season to season. I believe this to be the reason for his fluctuating stat line through his college career. Blindly looking at his stats, it looks like he was basically a star his sophomore season, and his other three seasons were middling at best. Some may look at his college stats (which you can find here) and wonder whether Grayson is even cut out for the NBA. So where does he fit on the Jazz? Why do people like David Locke gush over him, and make predictions that Grayson will be a steady role player by the end of the season?
Hopefully in this “beat” of today’s SLCDunk Downbeat, I will show you why I think Grayson will be averaging 15-20 minutes per game by the end of this season.
I want to start by looking at some game film. In his freshman year, Grayson only averaged 9.2 minutes per game, 4.4 points per game, and spent a significant amount of time watching games from the bench. This video is from his surprise breakout game in the 2015 NCAA Finals, helping Duke clinch the title.
Here are some more recent highlights from this past 2018 March Madness.
This next highlight video isn’t specifically focused on Grayson, but look at how he impacts the game even though most of the highlights are not of him.
We see from these videos multiple things that Grayson’s stat lines do not tell us up front. Aside from his notable ability to get on his opponent’s nerves, he can score on tough defense. He chases like a hellhound after every loose ball. He is constantly looking to set up his teammates. He has great shooting form. He has a sharp basketball mind. Whether he is sprinting around the 3pt line in reaction to what is going on inside the paint during a play, or maintaining smart positioning in Duke’s zone defense, Grayson is one of those players that usually seems to be in the right spot. Overall, it is apparent that this is a player that our scouting, coaching, and front office personnel would say “plays the game right”. There is a lot to like about this kid and his potential fit with the Utah Jazz.
One of the most impressive parts of Grayson Allen’s resume is how many roles he played in his four years of college. As I mentioned before, he started off as a benchwarmer that saw only a few minutes as he gave the starters a breather. His sophomore year he was the featured player on the team, leading the team in scoring, minutes, assists, steals, 3pt%, on a team that included Brandon Ingram and Luke Kennard. He took more of a back seat in his final two seasons in college, with a drop in scoring opportunities, but with a marked improvement to his overall basketball IQ that is only visible through watching him play. During his senior year, Grayson averaged a career-high 4.6 assists per game, and was one of the primary ballhandlers of the team. From the film, he looks very comfortable setting up the offense and dishing impressively accurate passes. While he was not the primary scoring option, he was absolutely an integral cog of the Duke engine that won a lot of games in his time there.
These different roles were obviously influenced by the personnel of the team. In four seasons, Grayson invariably played with a teammate that would be drafted the following NBA Draft in the top 3 selections. He also played with many other first-round picks. Those players are as followed, with their draft spot in parentheses.
14-15: Jahlil Okafor (3), Justise Winslow (10), Tyus Jones (24)
15-16: Brandon Ingram (2)
16-17: Jayson Tatum (3), Luke Kennard (12), Harry Giles (20)
17-18: Marvin Bagley III (2), Wendell Carter Jr. (7)
College stars often come into the NBA with a sense of entitlement, when they are used to always being the best player on their team. Grayson has already learned how to play with star teammates. In that last video above, Grayson is setting up Marvin Bagley III left and right. Grayson can undoubtedly take over a game when he gets a hot hand, but he is almost a better player when he is focused on the team, and making them look better. Grayson’s entire college career has set him up perfectly to fit in comfortably as a solid role player in the NBA.
I have written everything up to this point building toward this upcoming take. While Grayson is a very well-rounded player, who has his weaknesses as well as strengths, there is one skill I believe we as fans are overlooking. This skill is particularly going to shine when he plays for the Utah Jazz. In my humble opinion, Grayson Allen’s most valuable NBA-ready skill is his passing. Don’t get me wrong, Grayson’s shooting off of screens, hustle, and ability to get under the skin of the opponent will all add to his case as coach Quin Snyder decides on the team’s minutes distributions. However, passing—paired with his high basketball IQ—is what I feel will put him over the top this season.
I know what you are saying, the Jazz have a good thing going. With Dante Exum, Royce O’Neal, Alec Burks and others, there may not be too many minutes to go around. I hear you. Grayson will have to learn Quin Snyder’s system and earn his minutes, and that may take some time. Even Donovan Mitchell had some rough stretches early in his rookie season as he began to figure things out. Yet, there is no better set of circumstances for Grayson to come in and learn the Jazz system. All of his teammates have one or more years under their belt studying this system. Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell are also more than willing mentors. Grayson may start the season with few minutes, and possibly some DNP-CD’s, but I will join David Locke and others in predicting Grayson will be averaging about 20 minutes a game by the end of the season. This because of his underrated passing abilities, mixed with his scoring abilities, athleticism, and overall hustle.
Speaking of Grayson Allen, he had a photoshoot yesterday with other NBA Rookies.
Some more of @GraysonJAllen at today’s #NBARooks photo shoot— JazzNation (@JazzNationNews) August 12, 2018
image via Grayson Instagram #JazzNation #TakeNote #UtahJazz#GraysonAllen #DukeMBB pic.twitter.com/e1GrsEjqRg
.@GraysonJAllen is the Jazz gold Statement jersey— JazzNation (@JazzNationNews) August 12, 2018
image via @SLAMonline #JazzNation #UtahJazz #TakeNote#NBARooks #GraysonAllen #NBA pic.twitter.com/f1jPPX2TCM
@GraysonJAllen— JazzNation (@JazzNationNews) August 12, 2018
image via @SLAMonline #NBARooks #JazzNation #NBA#UtahJazz #GraysonAllen pic.twitter.com/K7cstneDxj
Happy Photo Shoot Day #NBARooks pic.twitter.com/pHG0Owgomh— NBA TV (@NBATV) August 12, 2018
Feels good to finally suit up in my @UtahJazz uni #TakeNote. Go check out my #PaniniInstant card here #PaniniNBARookie https://t.co/T0M1Mek47x pic.twitter.com/IWsFtRS6dp— Grayson (@GraysonJAllen) August 12, 2018
As was previously written about, the Jazz’s season schedule was released. Our Taylor Griffin put out a piece reacting to the schedule just moments after it went live. I wanted to take a quick look at the breakdown of back-to-backs this season. First, the calendar view of the schedule, per Andy Larsen on Twitter:
A prettier version of the Jazz's schedule, from @utahjazz: pic.twitter.com/JtFjAPyzrQ— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) August 10, 2018
I made a quick Excel table, and tallied up back-to-back games per month, noted some details on what type of back to back it was, and which teams were played on the front and back ends of each one. Here’s the data I gathered:
First thing’s first, it appears that starting the season earlier has absolutely reduced the severity of back-to-backs. The Jazz only have two months containing three B2B’s, and one of those is February. This is great, because our second B2B of the month comes after a nice, long All-Star Weekend break, which is followed by another break lasting a few days, which is followed by the third B2B of the month. There really is only one stretch that looks a bit rough, and that is around the time of the games in Mexico City. This was probably expected when we signed up for the trip. There will be a good amount of plane rides in that stretch, and not much down time before, during, or after that trip. Other than that, the scheduled appears fair. However I reserve the right to change my opinion on that as I look into the schedule further, compared to the schedules of other teams.
I did notice that there were two teams that we play quite a few times in our B2B’s. The Jazz will face Denver and OKC each three times during a B2B. I have not been able to look at Denver or OKC’s schedules, so take that as simply an interesting fact for now.
Overall, I am happy with this schedule, there isn’t a grueling December gauntlet like we had last season, and we get a regular amount of rest between most games. As of right now, there are not any gigantic red flags.
Ed Küpfer on Twitter analyzed the NBA schedule and organized a list detailing how many miles each team will be traveling during the 2018-19 regular season. Before I give any commentary, let’s take a look at it.
NBA 2018-19: Miles traveled by each team pic.twitter.com/xYyiJK7joO— Ed Küpfer (@EdKupfer) August 10, 2018
This depicts an interesting advantage that comes from playing in the Eastern Conference. It is debatable how much of an impact this has on the outcome of a regular season win total, but Eastern Conference teams travel less than Western Conference teams, since major cities on the East Coast are located closer together. In the 2018-19 season, only 3 Eastern Conference teams are in the top 15 of miles traveled, only 2 are in the top 13, and only 1 is in the top 10.
This may be another argument to get rid of conferences. Although there will be an increased average of travel distance, the range between the highest and lowest data points would be smaller.
After a little time to process the schedule, what are your offseason predictions for the Jazz’s win total?
How many games will the Utah Jazz win during the 2018-19 regular season?
This poll is closed
40 or below
I don’t know why I added so many options. We all know the Jazz are going to win all 82.