Grayson Allen’s NBA stock has consistently declined over time. After his big breakout at the 2015 national championship game, the six-foot-four swingman opted to return for his sophomore season and now again for his junior year but hasn’t shown much in terms of improvement. Draft Express currently ranks him 27th in its current 2017 board and will probably no longer rate him a first-round prospect in its next update.
His best shot at developing into a meaningful contributor in the pros was transitioning to the point but he has not evolved into the sort of player who can be relied on to create against a set defense on a consistent basis. Despite the fact Duke has provided him a ton of shot creation opportunities in a well-spaced offense over the last two seasons, Allen has not managed to develop his skill-set.
He might still have room to eventually become a 3D point guard who supplements wingmen with heavy usages but concerns over his ability to successfully attack closeouts and give a crap on defense more regularly remain.
As a true wing, Allen doesn’t have the physical profile to get by as a one-dimensional threat. He has pretty great vertical explosion in space but struggles at the rim in the half-court and lacks length, strength and general tenacity to match up with bigger types on defense.
His three-point shot is great and JJ Redick is a model for how Allen could potentially succeed in the pros as a pure wing despite these concerns, but the thing about Redick is there aren’t all that many of him; notice how hard it’s been for guys like Anthony Morrow and Troy Daniels to get on the court these past few years.
Allen is a really good catch-and-shoot shooter, though. He’s nailed 38.7% of his 354 three-point shots over his 83 appearances at the college level, while averaging seven attempts per 40 minutes.
And Allen is not the standstill type who only spots up on the weak-side but has also proven himself able to make shots sprinting to the ball on dribble handoffs, getting his shot off a quick release before an effective contest and from deep range.
He’s not as prolific a shooter off the bounce, though. Allen can make step-back pull-ups and does elevate with great balance on stop-and-pop shots from mid-range but can’t get clean looks with regularity when he’s the one responsible for creating them, hitting just 37% of his two-point jumpers this season and 36.2% of them last year – according to hoop-math.
Allen didn’t do well as Duke’s point guard early last season and has since been moved off the ball even when Derryck Thornton and Frank Jackson were then and are now off the court, with veteran Matt Jones the one responsible for feeding the high post and setting them up into their drive-and-kick sequences.
So, Allen gets most almost all of his dribble penetration on catch-and-go’s and off a live dribble; attacking closeouts and on straight line drives off dribble hand-offs. He can get to the basket in these instances and has shown some creativity elevating off the wrong foot to try neutralizing shot blockers but has generally struggled finishing at the basket against high level competition.
Allen has dealt with a toe injury that has surely affected his leaping ability this season but even last year, he never showed much in terms of adjusting body in the air and lacks length (six-foot-six wingspan) for reverses and extended finishes. According to Draft Express, he shot 47% within close range in the half-court last season and has currently converted just 51.5% of his attempts at the basket in this one.
When he creates his own shot against a set defense and late in the shot clock, Allen struggles to turn the corner out of the pick-and-roll, hasn’t yet developed any advanced moves to shake his defender side-to-side in isolation and has disappointed with his lack of speed in his attempts to blow by big man on switches.
Allen has, however proven himself able to make reads on the move, finding shooters spot up on the strong side when he sucks in the defense and big men in the dunker’s spot on drop-offs. Though he’s yet to show much in terms of passing across his body to the opposite end of the court, he has flashed the ability to play with pace in the two-man game when he’s hedged or shown hard against and his court vision facing the defense in these instances is pretty good, as he’s been able to hit big men diving to the basket on slower developing pick-and-rolls.
According to basketball-reference, Allen has assisted on 19.2% of Duke’s scores when he’s been on the floor and his 10.3% turnover rate is very acceptable in the context of his 25.1% usage rate.
Allen has improved his effort in relation to last season. He gets on a stance and has worked hard to shuffle his feet in order to stay in front in isolation. But often matched up against other wings, Allen lacks strength to contain dribble penetration through contact and can’t contest shots effectively.
Last season, he was matched up on point guards in some instances and showed some potential defending on the ball. Allen proved able to navigate over ball screens and chase smaller players over the court. Against them, his wingspan could go from liability to asset, as it gives him some reach to try picking their pockets for steals.
As a weak-side defender, Allen steps into the front of the basket to draw charges but his contributions through blocks and steals aren’t substantial. And he’s no option to pick up big men on switches, playing with no force or tenacity and getting easily pushed out of the way in his attempts to front the post.
Allen has collected almost 14% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor this season, which is an appealing mark for a guard but must be considered in the context of Duke playing most of its minutes with just a single true big man on the court, enhancing the availability of rebounding opportunities for its perimeter players.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara