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Dylan Ennis Taking A Different Path

Oregon guard Dylan Ennis speaks to Oliver Maroney about his roller coaster basketball career, brother Tyler and more.

Oliver Maroney

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Dylan Ennis, brother of former Syracuse guard and current Houston Rocket’s player Tyler Ennis, is a coach in a player’s body. He brings excitement, energy and endless passion to the game of basketball. He leads by example, but also with both exhausting and exhilarating play. He doesn’t have a signature move, but rather a number of moves that keep the opposition on their heels. With his bleach-blond hair patch, he pounds the court before games and projects an intimidating presence to opponents.

The numbers don’t fully do his play justice, but do confirm the 6’2 guard is everywhere at once: Dylan leads the 16-2 Oregon Ducks in assists, steals and minutes played Additionally, he is fourth in scoring and third in rebounding.

It all started from the day Dylan was born. His mother would enter labor and eventually give birth to Dylan – all while his biological father was in the same hospital suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. Dylan’s father, Jonathan Howell, would end up paralyzed on the left side of his body. Two years later, he would separate with Dylan’s mother. From that point on, Dylan would start to split time with his stepfather (whom he refers to as his father), Tony McIntyre, and Jonathan.

“On the weekends, when I didn’t have basketball, I’d go to Jonathan’s house,” Dylan told Basketball Insiders. “All other times, I’d be with Tony. He coached my basketball teams and so we spent a lot of time together. When I was younger and even now, I never wanted one father to feel more important than the other. Growing up they both gave me the whole world, both of them. Tony, I lived with him my entire life, he was my coach, my best friend, him and I would talk about basketball twenty-four seven. He was my dad, so he helped me grow up into a man. My other father, my biological father, Jonathan, he was there when I needed him, as far as on the weekends. He knew that he was only going to get three days out of three or four weeks with me, but he made the best of it.”

The Ennis’s were a basketball family. Dylan’s older brother Brandon and younger brother Tyler both played basketball. In fact, all members of the Ennis family played basketball in some capacity. His other siblings Dominique, Tyylon and Brittany also play the game. His father was the coach of many basketball teams, including the three brothers’, growing up. But Tyler and Dylan were probably the closest of the siblings as far as basketball was concerned.

“He was a bit older than me, but we were basically twins,” Tyler Ennis told Basketball Insiders. “We did everything together. Even now he’s my best friend, we talk every day.”

Dylan knew he wanted to pursue basketball at the highest level. He’d been pushed by his father and motivated by his family. They all were close enough in age to where the support was mutually beneficial and contributed to their success on and off the court.

“When I was four, I knew I wanted to play in the NBA,” Dylan told Basketball Insiders. “I think that came from playing and watching all my siblings. Growing up, Brandon and I played with each other from the age of four to about 10 years old. Then he went off, got older and got into teams where you start playing your own age group. So then Tyler did what I did when I played up with Brandon. He played up with me for a few years and that’s why I think he developed so well. My dad always coached about two or three teams at a time so we’d be running from gym to gym to make sure that we could watch each other play. Typical tournament weekends we’d leave as a family around 9:00 AM and not get back until about 10:00 or 11:00 at night because we’d all stay and watch each other play. It was a basketball family, everything we did we dedicated to basketball and that was our life. We all loved it.”

Dylan would move on to high school, which is when his dad determined that moving to New York with his uncle Paul Ruddock would be his best move.

When I was fourteen, my dad said, ‘You’re really good, we should have you looking at going to school in New York,'” Dylan said.  “At the time, New York City was the mecca of basketball and my uncle Paul was known in New York City as a coach, so he offered to help me get into a basketball school. Once we went down there, we determined the best school for me to go to was Wings Academy because it was in a public league that everybody loved. It was good competition, it had Lance Stephenson and Sebastian Telfair coming out of it. He had a friend who coached at Wings Academy in the Bronx and we lived on Long Island, so when I went there I thought the coach would drive me up to school but that wasn’t the case.”

Dylan would take two different buses and walk over 30 minutes to get to school, amounting to nearly three hours of travel each way. He’d wake up at 5:30 AM and get to school around 8:30 AM, and while the travel was hard, it wasn’t just waking up early that made the change hard to get used to.

“I just wanted to play basketball at the highest level, so I was going to do everything it took,” Dylan said. “Going there, it sounds great, ‘Wings Academy,’ but it was actually right in the middle of a lot of poverty and bad gang related neighborhoods. We don’t talk about this too much, but there was a time when a couple of my teammates got jumped going to practice. Our school was so small, so we had to go to another gym that was in a really bad neighborhood. So the team decided everybody would travel with these small pocket knives. Me being from Canada, I never experienced anything like that, but they said ‘Dylan, if something happens we have to protect ourselves.’ So we all got these little pocket knives to put in our pockets. Luckily I never had to use it, but we’d be on the train together, on the subway, and get to practice and we always had to be on the lookout for anybody trying to get us. It was a tough two years, and I never told my mom while I was gone because I knew she’d worry about my safety.”

Dylan carried that experience at Wings Academy with him and to this day he’s grateful that he was put in that position. His uncle Paul, with whom he lived in New York City, is like a third father to Dylan.

“He instilled that New York toughness in me,” Dylan said.

After Wings, Dylan would transfer to Lake Forest Academy in Illinois, moving once again to a new city and new surroundings. Only this time, he’d get the full live-in experience before college. He would work tirelessly, getting up at 6:00 AM with his assistant coach and working on every part of his game. Dylan was unsure of where he’d go to college, but was confident that he was destined for a top-five school.

“I never, not one time, said ‘I’m not going to play at a top school in the country,'” Dylan said.

Dylan would be in the weight room every other day getting bigger, stronger and better. Before his junior season at the Academy, mid-major schools started to show interest in the product from Ontario. He would verbally commit to Akron University before his junior year in high school and then later open his recruiting back up before his senior season because he improved and started turning heads. He got “a lot of offers,” but ended up committing to Rice University because he felt he could make an immediate impact as a freshman.

He would graduate high school and attend Rice, where he was a projected starter and go-to leader. But three weeks before the season started he got very sick and missed precious time with the team, which forced him to sit out most of his first seven games. But Dylan proved resilient, and would eventually propel himself to an incredible freshman season. He would go on to be named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team for a rookie season in which he set a school freshman record for assists (144) while averaging 8.5 points to go along with 37 steals and 21 blocks.

That lone freshman season would give Dylan confidence, which would be enough for him to make a change once again. This time, his father and he felt that Rice was going to hold Dylan back from his true potential.

“I knew that I wanted to be one of the top guards in the country,” Ennis said. “I knew I wanted to compete for a national championship and play basketball at the professional level. In order to do that, we just decided that we should take our chances and try and go to a high-major school. Once I had that discussion with my father, I talked to the Rice coaches to tell them how I felt about it. It went back and forth and they tried to make me stay, but I knew it wasn’t the greatest environment for me to become the best basketball player I could be. So, I got my release and then about twenty to twenty-five schools started calling me and my father. Pittsburgh, Villanova, Cincinnati, Virginia, all the schools I wanted coming out of high school. That was really good to hear, it was a sense of reaffirmation.”

He’d moved multiple times over the course of five years to get to that top national level, but nothing was taken for granted. Dylan finally got his pick, and it didn’t take long for him to decide where he’d end up.

“I remember when [Villanova head coach Jay Wright] first called me,” Dylan said. “It was a three-way call with me and my dad, and my dad was like, ‘Coach Wright wants to offer you scholarships.’ And I said, ‘I want to commit right now,’ and he goes, ‘Dylan, you’ve got to wait a little bit, you’ve got to wait.’ Watching Villanova growing up they had amazing guards, but we waited it out and I visited there. I also visited Cincinnati, and I was going to visit Boston College and Virginia as well but I just knew I wanted to go to Villanova after the visit.”

Dylan would go to Villanova, sitting out his first year and working with Billy Lange, current Philadelphia 76ers skill development coach and former assistant at Villanova. They would spend almost every day together – working on strength, conditioning and improving him on the court. As the year went by, rumors around campus were that Dylan was going to be the next big player at Villanova. Everything was looking on “the up and up,” as Dylan explained.

Then, a week before the season, Dylan was playing in a team scrimmage with NBA scouts watching. Early on in the scrimmage, he came off a ball screen and hit his hand on a teammate’s knee.

“I didn’t think nothing of it (the injury),” Dylan said. “I went to the trainer and he said it was just swollen. So, I practiced the rest of the practice and I went to bed. I woke up the next morning and found that it was still swollen. I went back to the trainer again and they ordered me to get an MRI. I waited for the results, and when they got the MRI back they told me it was broken.”

Dylan would eventually make it back on the court during that season, but it wouldn’t be the same. In the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, which featured Kansas (with Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins), USC and some other notable national powerhouses, Dylan was regarded as one of the best players in the tournament. In wins against Kansas and USC, he scored 14 points on 80 percent shooting in each game. But during the process, Dylan suffered a sprained finger on his shooting hand, which affected his season and led to inconsistent performances.

That was the same season that younger brother Tyler began attending Syracuse University. He’d would go on to be a Second-Team All-ACC player, First-Team Parade All-American and be regarded as one of the best freshmen in the country. He had such a good season that he ended up declaring for the 2014 NBA Draft, and eventually was selected 18th overall by the Phoenix Suns.

“That was when I started to question basketball,” Ennis told Basketball Insiders. “When you go through so much to get back on the court and get injured again, there’s just a lot that goes through your mind. I don’t have any resentment towards my brother whatsoever because I know how good he is and I know how much he’s worked. But you’re in the same family and you see so much success from your younger brother and you think ‘why’ when I worked just as hard.”

Dylan was the older brother who brought Tyler around everywhere. He knew what his older brother Brandon did for him, so he tried to do the same for Tyler. They would play two-on-two with others, they’d work out together, they’d virtually do everything together. Dylan recalls Tyler getting drafted.

It was definitely mixed emotions when we were sitting in the green room at the draft,” he said. “I think I was happier than he was getting drafted but, at the same time, it dawned on me: ‘I want to be here one day and I’m just waiting it out.'”

That’s when Dylan would push himself even further. He’d put more fuel on the fire and develop into a starting guard at Villanova for his third collegiate season.

“That summer I’d work my tail off and earned a starting spot,” Ennis said.

He would go on to play valiantly for the Wildcats, averaging 9.9 points, 3.5 assists, 3.7 rebounds and one steal per game.

But at the end of the season, Dylan would come to another decision as to whether he’d stay at Villanova or leave as a graduate transfer. He loved Coach Wright, the program and his teammates, but decided that he’d make a leap and try something new. He would transfer to the University of Oregon after having a long conversation with Coach Wright. To this day, the two still talk frequently as Wright and Dylan have mutual respect for one another.

“I was shocked and disappointed that he left,” said Coach Wright. “He’s an incredible young man who did everything we asked of him at Villanova. He graduated on time, played great and was an exceptional teammate and outstanding representative of the program. He was very honest and clear about the situation (with him leaving) and I was fully understanding and supported his decision to leave. We still text and talk to each other. I love that kid.”

Dylan left to become the leader of the Oregon Ducks basketball team, but would miss most of his first season with a broken foot. He still would make his presence felt immediately, though.

“Even though he was injured a majority of his first season and summer, he had an immediate presence on our locker room,” Former reserve guard Theo Friedman said. “He’s got natural leadership that I’ve never seen throughout my basketball career. To this day, he’s one of the best teammates I’ve had despite never getting to play alongside him due to the injury. He just knows how to communicate and talk to teammates. I basically viewed him as a coach on the floor. He’s probably the only player I’ve played with who could actually be considered a floor general.”

Going through another season riddled with injuries wasn’t easy for Dylan. But coincidentally, he found someone in a similar situation as him, which made it easier to find the silver lining at Oregon.

“When I got here, this girl (Megan Trinder) on the basketball team had recently torn her ACL,” Dylan said.  “So I see her around, and we talked, hung out and became good friends. Then, not too long after we became friends, I break my foot. Now I’m out and she’s just recovering from her ACL and it’s funny how things work but, from me being hurt to her being hurt, we just became closer and closer until we started to date. Eventually, I’d get back on the court after breaking my foot for a second time last year and she was there throughout to help me. Now, coincidentally, she recently tore her ACL again and I’m playing Nurse Dylan for her. Injuries have just shown me who’s there for you and I think the injuries we’ve both had have only helped us in times of frustration and loneliness.” 

Dylan’s injury history is alarming, but it’s also what sets him apart from other players. He’s been through it all and plays with as much heart as any player on the floor. If you talk to any University of Oregon staff member, there is never any doubt about him or his ability.

“Dylan, pound for pound, may be the most dangerous guard in the PAC-12,” Oregon assistant coach Mike Mennenga said. “His skill and physicality make it very difficult to keep him out of the paint. He has really embraced Coach Altman’s offensive philosophy of making ‘simple plays’ and thus his offensive efficiency has skyrocketed, especially when you consider his three-point percentage and assist to turnover ratio. Defensively, Dylan is built to be an elite defender. His [6’8] wingspan has led our team’s defensive surge with his IQ and communication. Most importantly, Dylan is all about the team. A ‘tough-minded’ gladiator who is loved and respected throughout the program. He makes us and his teammates better.”

Dylan has his imprint all over this Oregon Ducks team, which has won 14 straight, and he’s become the focal point of their locker room. After being out for most of last season, he’s come back this season better than ever, leading the team both on and off-the-court.

“When I got to Oregon I didn’t want [my teammates] to not know my character,” Dylan said. “I wanted them to know that I’m here for the team. A leader doesn’t say, ‘I’m here to take all of the shots’ or, ‘I’m here to tell you what to do.’ A leader says, ‘I want to win, and I’m going to do everything I can for us to win.’ And that’s what I did when I got here.”

Dylan is beginning his final chapter with Oregon and finishing his Master’s Degree in Conflict and Dispute Resolution this spring. He’s managed to balance the thesis project, internship hours and basketball in his final year at the school while pursuing his lifelong dream of becoming an NBA player after the season is over.

Whether Dylan makes it to the NBA is still to be determined, but what is clear is that he is extremely selfless and puts his teammates first. With his leadership qualities, unique experiences and potential, it would surprise no one if he carved out a role in the world’s top basketball league.

 

For more on the Oregon Ducks’ basketball team, read up on Ennis’s teammate Dillon Brooks

Oliver Maroney is an NBA writer for Basketball Insiders. He is based in Portland and covers the league as a whole.

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NBA Daily: Georges Niang’s Big Break

After dominating the G-League for a year, Georges Niang has more than earned this big opportunity with the Utah Jazz, writes Ben Nadeau.

Ben Nadeau

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For Georges Niang, reaching professional stability was always going to be a tall order.

Even after four dominant seasons at Iowa State, the tweener forward was viewed as a draft risk. At 6-foot-8, the versatile playmaker has always scored in bunches but also struggled to find his place in the modern NBA. Despite excelling as a knockdown three-point shooter, the fundamentally sound Niang has bounced around the country looking for a long-term opportunity.

In the two seasons since he was drafted, Niang has played in 50 G-League games for three separate franchises and had his non-guaranteed contract waived twice.

As a summer league standout for the second straight offseason, Niang’s determined efforts officially paid off last week after he signed a three-year deal with the Utah Jazz worth about $5 million. Now with a fully-guaranteed contract under his belt for 2018-19, Niang has been eager to prove his worth both on and off the court — a newfound skill-set he happily attributes to Utah’s excellent system.

“In the Jazz organization, from top to bottom, they do a good job of nurturing guys and forming them into good leaders and things like that,” Niang told Basketball Insiders. “So, it was really easy to transition to summer league, [I’m] really just trying to lead by example, not with just my words.

“And I think playing hard, being a good teammate and doing the right thing –I think those are three things that the Jazz really stand for.”

But his meandering path toward year-long job security wasn’t destined to end up this way — no, not at all.

Selected by the Indiana Pacers in the 2016 NBA Draft with the No. 50 overall pick, Niang was correctly projected as a hard-working, high-IQ contributor that could put up points on almost anybody. Unfortunately, following a low-impact rookie year with the Pacers — and some short stints with their G-League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, as well — Niang was waived the ensuing summer. Shortly thereafter, Niang latched on with the Golden State Warriors, where he participated in training camp and four preseason games — but, again, he was waived before the season began.

With the Santa Cruz Warriors, Niang flat-out dominated the competition for months, up until he grabbed a two-way contract from Utah in January. In total, Niang played in 41 games between Santa Cruz and the Salt Lake City Stars in 2017-18, averaging 19.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.1 steals on 45.7 percent from deep over 33.9 minutes per game.

Once attached to Utah’s affiliate franchise, Niang averaged a team-high 22 points per game and finished the campaign as the 13th-best scorer in the G-League. On top of all that, Niang was both an All-Star and honored with a spot on the All-NBA G-League First Team at season’s end.

Although he would ultimately play in just nine games for the deep Western Conference roster, Niang was simply laying important groundwork for the days ahead.

This summer, Niang averaged 16.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in three contests during Utah Summer League. Given the golden opening to impress his future would-be-employers, Niang kept things rolling in Sin City and posted similar numbers over five games. On the back of a 20-point, eight-rebound performance early on in Las Vegas, Niang embraced the chance to fight and compete for his team — five full days before the Jazz signed him to a guaranteed deal.

“It was a real physical game, but those are the games you want to play in during summer league,” Niang said. “You want to play in those types of environments, where every possession matters and you gotta make plays down the stretch — and I think we did a really good job doing that.”

Those scrappy aspirations have been a staple of Niang’s since his collegiate days at Iowa State, too. During an ultra-impressive senior year, Niang tallied 20.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game for the Cyclones, leading their roster to 23 wins and an eventual trip to the Sweet Sixteen. That season, Niang took home the 2016 Karl Malone Award as Division-I’s top power forward and finished with 2,228 points, the second-best mark in school history.

Any way you slice it, whether at college or in the G-League, Niang can play, the moment just needs to reveal itself — and maybe it finally has.

Of course, this new contract — one that’s only fully guaranteed in 2018-19 — doesn’t ensure Niang any playing time and he’ll have some stiff competition. Just to get on the court, he’ll need to squeeze minutes from Derrick Favors, Jae Crowder and Joe Ingles — a tough task in head coach Quin Snyder’s defense-first rotation. No matter what his role or obligations end up amounting to, Niang is ready to meet that challenge head-on.

“In the NBA, everyone has a role,” Niang told Basketball Insiders. “So, obviously, things are gonna be peeled back and you’ll have a defined role. My role is just when I get the ball, and if I do, play-make for others or get guys open, defend multiple positions, play multiple positions on offense and knock down open shots.”

Although his past resume certainly speaks for itself, it’ll be up to Niang take his big break even further. But given his efficiency and execution at every other level, there’s little reason to doubt the forward now. Days before they signed Niang, he was asked if Utah was somewhere he could see himself for the foreseeable future — his response was precise and foreboding.

“I’d love to be here — what [the Jazz] stand for is what I’m all about. I’ve had a blast with all these guys and I’d love to keep it going.”

And now, he’ll get at least 82 more games to make his case.

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NBA Daily: The Carmelo Anthony Trade is a Rare Win-Win for All Involved

It is rare for a trade to be beneficial for all parties, but the Thunder-Hawks-76ers swap has the makings of a win-win-win situation.

Shane Rhodes

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The Big Three Era in Oklahoma City came and went rather quickly.

On Thursday, the Thunder reached an agreement to trade Carmelo Anthony and a protected 2022 first-round draft pick to the Atlanta Hawks for guard Dennis Schröder, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. As part of a three-team deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Thunder will also walk away with Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot while the Hawks and 76ers swap Mike Muscala and Justin Anderson.

It is rare for a trade to be beneficial for all parties, but the Thunder-Hawks-76ers swap has the makings of a win-win-win situation. Just as well, the trade is perhaps even more beneficial for the players involved.

While Anthony may have wanted to stay with Russell Westbrook and Paul George, the trade is more than beneficial for him. After the trade goes through, the Hawks plan to buyout Anthony’s contract and he will reportedly receive the entire $27.9 million he is owed next season. Even better still, Anthony is free to join any team he wants, whether it be the Houston Rockets and friend Chris Paul, the Los Angeles Lakers and friend LeBron James, or elsewhere.

With his money already in hand, Anthony could sign on the cheap as well, making negotiations with any franchise that much easier.

For the Thunder, clearing Anthony’s massive salary from their books was of paramount importance. Staring down a $150 million luxury tax bill, Sam Presti managed to move Anthony and improve the team or, at the very least, make a lateral move depending on how you look at Schröder. Even as they take back the remaining $46.5 million owed to Schröder, the Thunder will save more than $60 million next season alone. That makes the trade worth it for Oklahoma City all by itself.

Still, the move allowed them to fill a need, perhaps more important than the cash savings as they look ahead to next season. Schröder not only fortifies the Thunder bench but the point guard position behind starter Russell Westbrook as well; he is another athletic playmaker that Oklahoma City can play on the wing with confidence. And, after averaging a career-high 19.4 points per game to go along with 6.2 assists last season, Schröder provides the Thunder offense with more firepower to compete against the other top teams in the Western Conference, a necessity if they hope to make a long playoff run.

For Schröder, the move to Oklahoma City is just as beneficial for him as it is for the team. Schröder is no longer the starter (he was unlikely to be the starter in Atlanta with Trae Young in the fold), but he can still make an impact and now he can do so for a contender.

The Hawks, as they should be, are playing the long game here. They acquired Jeremy Lin, an expiring contract, from the Brooklyn Nets earlier this offseason. After drafting Young, their guard surplus afforded them the chance to move Schröder’s deal off their books, netting them a first-round pick in the process and opening up playing time for the Young right away.

While the pick is top-14 protected (the pick becomes two second rounders if it doesn’t convey in 2022, every asset counts as the Hawks will look to add talent through the draft for years to come. With the addition of the Thunder pick, the Hawks now are owed an extra three first-round picks between the 2019 and 2022 drafts, a benefit for the Hawks whether they use those picks or trade them for already established talent. Meanwhile, Anderson, 24, presents another intriguing, and more importantly, young, option alongside the core of Young, Kevin Huerter, John Collins and Taurean Prince.

Anderson will almost certainly receive more playing time in Atlanta as they figure out who and who can’t help the team. His time in Philadelphia was mired by injury and he never had the opportunity to show what he could do. So, whether they use him as an asset in a future trade or plan to keep him on the roster, Anderson, at the very least, will have the opportunity to show what he can do.

For the 76ers, Muscala is essentially insurance for the reneged deal with Nemanja Bjelica. Bjelica agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the team but the stretch-four never signed his contract and backed out of the deal. With him out of the picture along with losing Ersan Ilyasova, Muscala was one of the few remaining options for the 76ers in that specific, stretch-big role.

Muscala doesn’t have the same shooting chops that Bjelica has, but he is younger and might have more upside alongside Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and co. Last season, Muscala, in addition to career highs in points and rebounds, averaged a career-high 3.2 three-pointers per game and hit 37.1 percent of them. While he likely won’t see the playing time he saw in Atlanta, Muscala should easily slide into a role off the bench for the 76ers. Moving Anderson and Luwawu-Cabarrot clears a logjam on the wing as well and will afford more minutes to Markelle Fultz (when he is ready), T.J. McConnell and rookies Zhaire Smith and Furkan Korkmaz.

As it stands, this trade made sense for all parties involved, and that alone is reason enough to consider it a win all around. While things could certainly change and hindsight is 20/20, this deal is beneficial for all three teams right now and could positively impact all three squads both next season and beyond.

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NBA Daily: Grayson Allen Ready for NBA Challenge

Making it in the NBA alone is quite an impressive feat, which is why Grayson Allen is doing the best he can to prepare for the big stage.

Matt John

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Grayson Allen may not be the most hyped-up prospect to come out of this year’s draft, but he is one of the more experienced rookies coming into the league this season.

Allen spent four years learning under the tutelage of Coach K at Duke University while also playing with the likes of Brandon Ingram, Jayson Tatum, and Marvin Bagley III. He’s been through it all at the collegiate level, but he knows that if he’s going to make it in the pros, he’s going to have to adapt as quickly as possible.

“I have to set the tone for myself where I have to know playing in the NBA as a rookie, guys are going to be physical with you,” Allen said. “They’re going to come at you, they’re going to test you and see what you got. You’re gonna get beat. You’re gonna fail, but you gotta come right back at ‘em the next time.”

Since debuting in the summer league, Allen’s been the perfect storm for the Jazz. His shooting numbers have not been encouraging, but his numbers across the board have shown how impactful a player he can be. These have been his stat lines in both the Salt Lake and Las Vegas summer leagues.

July 2 vs. San Antonio: 11 points on 4/16 shooting including 2/6 from three, eight rebounds, seven assists
July 5 vs. Atlanta: 9 points on 2/13 shooting including 0/2 from three, six rebounds, eight assists
July 7 vs. Portland: 16 points on 6/17 shooting including 2/9 from three, six rebounds, six assists
July 19 vs. Miami: 17 points on 7/17 shooting including ⅕ from three, seven rebounds, three assists

Maybe it’s been the dry climate, or maybe it’s been the high Utah elevation that has caused Allen’s struggles shooting-wise, but the fact that his all-around game has shined despite his shooting woes should excite the Jazz. After his summer league play, Allen says the biggest adjustment he’s had to make offensively is acclimating himself with the pace of the game.

“Offensively, it’s a lot easier when you slow down,” Allen said. “I’m starting to see the space of the floor a lot better and finding the open guys. There’s still a few plays out there where I think I got a little antsy but it’s human nature and I’m trying to fight it right now. As a rookie playing in his first couple of games, I’m trying to fight that and play under control.”

On the other side of the ball, Allen says the biggest adjustment is the increased level of physicality in the pros.

“Defensively, it’s physical,” Allen said. “You gotta fight guys. You gotta get through screens. I mean, the bigs, they really set great screens, so you gotta be able to fight through that… If you’re tired on defense, they’ll find you.”

Allen knows that he needs to commit if he’s going to make it in the NBA, which requires eliminating all bad habits. In order to eliminate any habit that Allen has, which in his case is fatigue at the moment, Allen believes that he needs to be more mindful of himself when he’s physically drained.

“I try to be really self-aware of my habits when I get tired out there,” Allen said. “On defense, I have a habit when I’m tired, I stand up and my feet are flat. On offense, I’m not ready for the shot… I try to be really self-aware of that stuff so that in practice or in August, September, October, leading up to the regular season, I can have good habits when I’m tired because we got a short leash as a rookie. You don’t have many mistakes to make.”

In Utah, Allen will be playing for a team that exceeded all expectation last year and has a much higher bar to reach this season. He believes the summer the league should serve him well as he fights for minutes in the Jazz’ rotation.

“I’m joining a playoff team, so I gotta carve out a role with the guys they already have,” Allen said. “When I’m playing in summer league, I’m trying to play the right way. Don’t take too many tough shots, find the right guy, make the right pass.- Because when you come and play for Quin Snyder, that’s what he’s gonna want. He’s just gonna want you to play the right way.”

When Adam Silver announced that Utah was taking Allen with the 21st overall pick, the general masses laughed due to Utah, a state with a white-bread reputation, took a white player. Given that Allen just played four years of basketball at one of the best college basketball programs in the nation and will be starting his career playing for one of the most well-run organizations in the league, he may be the one laughing when it’s all over.

In other words, Grayson Allen playing in Utah could be quite the trip.

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