Many words can be used to describe Grayson Allen’s professional debut; the word “cold” certainly doesn’t make the cut. The Utah Jazz were at home against the Perth Wildcats, who are certainly not an NBA team, but Grayson still showed why he merited a first-round selection back in June.
The Jazz opened up their preseason schedule against a team from “down-under” and did what any NBA team would be expected to do when facing a National Basketball League opponent from Australia. While the Perth Wildcats did finish 3rd last season in a professional league consisting of eight teams, they were no match for the Utah Jazz. You can say the Jazz played incredibly well, or simply say it was due to the lack of competition, but Utah came away with a 130-72 victory to open their preseason with a 1-0 record.
One thing that can’t be disputed is the play from rookie Grayson Allen. He subbed in midway through the first quarter and soon after buried a three from the wing off of a nice behind-the-back pass from teammate Alec Burks. Minutes later he had a superb catch-and-shoot bucket from the exact same spot during a fast break.
Those two plays were just the start to a fiery night, where Allen finished with 19 points on 7 of 14 shooting from the field and 5 of 9 from beyond-the-arc. His play displayed versatility on the offensive end, showing he’ll be comfortable playing both on and off the ball. This can be attributed to the many roles he was asked to play during his four-year tenure at Duke.
One of the most notable parts of the night was the variety at which Allen scored his baskets. Most of his threes were catch-and-shoot but late in the third quarter Grayson came off a screen with the ball and nailed a quick step-back three from the wing. This type of shot not only takes skill but a lot of confidence, as well. Catch-and-shoot threes are typically made at a much higher percentage, so being able to create space and shoot one without any assistance is undoubtedly impressive.
Early in the second quarter, Grayson took a screen by Derrick Favors at the top of the key, dribbled left, and finished a high floater over his defender just below the free throw line. This is another basket with a high degree of difficulty that Allen shot with conviction.
The last play worth highlighting happened early in the fourth quarter. Grayson showed great off-ball instincts by catching his defender sleeping while moving through traffic and cutting quickly to the basket. Georges Niang was able to see this and hit him with a quick pass, which Allen collected, elevated, and dunked home. We will surely see his notable vertical on display throughout the season, but this is something that hasn’t been talked about enough. In a league that is becoming more and more competitive, scoring at the rim is turning into quite the task. Grayson’s athleticism will allow him to score baskets that aren’t so easy for players with less leaping ability.
As good as Allen looked at some points of the game, he still had plenty of mishaps in his 22 minutes. His defense wasn’t as tight as you’d expect, especially for a guard on Quin Snyder’s roster. He committed four turnovers to only one assist. His handles at times looked sloppy, something an NBA-level guard should definitely improve. But all-in-all, Allen put together a great game.
One of the more interesting dilemmas the Jazz will face is their depth. If there aren’t any injuries, a handful of talented players will have to sacrifice playing time, and Grayson Allen could easily become one of them. The Utah Jazz may not have a roster filled with superstars, but they assuredly have a roster overflowing with talent. In order for Grayson to earn himself some time in Snyder’s rotation, he’ll need to continue playing at this level or higher.
If there is one thing the Jazz struggled with last year, it was points from the bench. Allen’s hot hand could prove to be a significant asset in helping this Jazz team make a deep run in the playoffs.
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