Standing in front of a slew of reporters at the Celtics‘ practice facility, Grayson Allen smiled and laughed while talking about his time with Jayson Tatum at Duke. He spoke about how Tatum would “kill people” in one-on-one and two-on-two games, praising his ability back then and now. He was pleasant, intelligent, and confident in what he brings to the table. At the surface, you’d never guess that he was one of college basketball’s most hated players of the past four years.
When people talk about Grayson Allen, the conversation normally turns to how he’s a dirty player and a punk. The Duke guard had plenty of incidents while playing in the ACC and faced a large amount of scrutiny during his time there. He joins the long list of vilified Duke stars like Christian Laettner and JJ Redick, but unlike them, Allen seems very comfortable speaking about his reputation.
“I have to address the lows just as much as I have to address the highs. Talk about what I’ve done well and obviously the mistakes I’ve made,” Allen said. “I obviously have to talk about it and talk through it and say where it comes from and what I’m doing to improve my emotions on the court and stuff like that. But at the end of the day, I’m not getting rid of that, because teams want an emotional and competitive guy out there.”
With Allen being up front and professional about his questionable past, he suddenly becomes a very intriguing prospect. Yes, some of this past is quite cringeworthy, but if he can dial some of that ”competitive fire” back, the guard could stick around the league for years to come.
Allen has a terrific offensive skillset, shooting effectively from NBA range with a very quick release. He can finish with both hands at the rim, and has a basketball IQ that coaches dream of. After all, he did have four years under Coach K. Allen has a long reach, which combined with his court vision makes him a dangerous passer and relatively effective rebounder. His numbers did peak during his sophomore year, so the guard’s lack of progress and quickness highlight his weaknesses. But once again, Allen surely does not lack competitive toughness.
Similar to a familiar front office member, Allen knows his role on the floor and openly admits that he likes to irritate opponents. “On the court I am a competitive irritant to the other team. I’m emotional. I’m fired up.”
When people talk about Danny Ainge the player, the conversation follows a pretty similar storyline to that of Grayson Allen’s. He’s a solid player with a great basketball IQ: a fierce, baby-faced competitor, not to mention he was also projected in the 25-35 range. Granted their fire comes in slightly different forms (to this point), but the comparison is undeniable. They’re both the classic example of a guy you hate to play against, but love to have on your team.
Just like Allen, Ainge was a solid shooter, great passer and ball handler, and the epitome of an irritant. He wore his emotions on his sleeve and left everything out there on the floor, much to the disdain of opposing fans, and backed down from no confrontation. And I mean no confrontation.
Now, we look at Danny Ainge as the brilliant, personable executive, who loves trades and draft picks just as much as anyone on the planet. Fast forward 30 years and you have Grayson Allen: fiery, fierce, and smart, but most importantly, a menace to opposing teams.
So to all of the Celtics fans out there wanting their team to avoid the former Blue Devil at pick #27, you might want to think twice. Ainge has drafted many players in his own image and Allen is yet another that fits the profile.
More Analysis on Grayson Allen from the CSL guys here: