In advance of the 2018 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops will be breaking down prospects, both from the college ranks and internationally, with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks will be evaluating in the coming days. More than 50 prospects will be profiled in this space and, in the end, the goal is to inform Hawks fans prior to June 21, when the Hawks are scheduled to make four selections with the first 33 picks.
Today’s edition breaks down Duke guard Grayson Allen.
With the potential exception of one-and-done talents bound for the NBA prior to landing at the NCAA level, Grayson Allen has been the most famous college basketball player in the country over the last few years. Part of that stems from his perch as the face of the Duke Blue Devils but, in addition to that built-in exposure, Allen made his national debut on the largest stage in helping lead Coach K’s team to a national title as a freshman. Beyond that, he also produced public tantrums that led sports broadcasts everywhere during his junior season and, well, he was also quite good at basketball along the way.
Because his overall package includes many things not directly related to basketball, there is a lot of noise about Allen as an NBA Draft prospect. With that said, he is a legitimately talented player with the theoretical ability to transition well to the professional ranks.
Allen will turn 23 in October and he is the rare example of a four-year college player that could still hear his name called within the top 40 picks in late June. While his stock was probably higher after his sophomore season (when he exploded from a production standpoint) than at this stage, Allen brings a potentially valuable skill set to the NBA at a time when it could be maximized with a spaced floor.
More than anything, Allen’s value comes as a shooter. He converted “only” 36.7 percent of his threes over the final two seasons at Duke but much of that stems from questionable shot selection and his natural stroke should produce at a higher level than that. On catch-and-shoot opportunities as a senior, Allen produced 172 points on 148 possessions and, according to Synergy, that places him in the 74th percentile among qualified players. In addition, he was fantastic in catch-and-shoot situations described as “guarded,” adding 114 points on only 82 possessions, leaning into his reputation as a shot-maker.
It should be noted that his percentage dipped considerably in unguarded spots but, in the same breath, there were far fewer opportunities (only 66 attempts) and that speaks to some of the clutter he waded through at Duke. Finally, Allen proved to be a near-elite shooter off the dribble at the college level, landing in the 91st percentile (107 points on 111 attempts) and that is perhaps his most intriguing asset for NBA scouts.
As a shooter, it would aggressive to describe Allen as elite but, in the same breath, he is one of the better shooters in this class. Because he is probably best suited in an eventual bench role, Allen could be called upon for “instant offense” and, if nothing else, he has the skill level required to produce in that way.
Allen also brings capability as a secondary ball-handler which could help his draft stock considerably. He was miscast at times during his Duke career as a full-time point guard but Allen is comfortable with the ball in his hands and is adept at creating, especially for himself, in advantage situations. He can attack closeouts on the perimeter effectively and, since he won’t have the ball in his hands a ton in the NBA, that skill will come in handy quite a bit.
From an athletic standpoint, there are some questions about Allen, especially given that he is only 6’5 with a 6’7 wingspan. That isn’t wildly undersized in today’s NBA but he certainly isn’t a point guard and there are situations in which it will be difficult for him to hold up defensively.
With that said, Allen improved markedly as a defensive player during his college career, to the point where he was an above-average defender as a senior. That may not translate in full but Allen is a solid athlete with reasonable length and, perhaps more importantly, he has the basketball IQ to function in an NBA-level defense. It won’t be a strength or a selling point but Allen isn’t the sieve that some will undoubtedly assume based on his make-up.
Allen will turn 23 years old in October and, in line with other four-year college players, there isn’t a ton of long-term upside associated with his profile. As a result, it would be a mild surprise if he went flying off the board in the top 20 to 25 picks. After that, Allen’s shooting and “plug-and-play” ability could be interesting for a playoff-ready team at the bottom of the first round, with another possible scenario of a top-10 perch in the second round.
That, of course, places him in the potential target range for the Hawks at either No. 30 or No. 33 overall. While that doesn’t mean Atlanta will see a ton of value in his skill set, it would be interesting to see him with the Hawks, especially provided they don’t draft a shooting-centric player with their earlier selections.
Grayson Allen will be in a new, supporting role when he lands in the NBA but, with the presence of Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. (among others) during his final college season, he has been able to peek into the future in some sense. There is no guarantee that he’ll find his NBA niche but Allen’s shooting is a valuable weapon and it could unlock many doors at the next level.