On September 27th, the Phoenix Suns were part of the biggest trade of the off-season. The headliner of that deal was long time Portland Trailblazer Damian Lillard being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. A player the caliber of Lillard isn’t changing teams without a lot of players and assets also being moved.
Portland wasn’t going to move Lillard without getting a lot in return. So there was a need for a third team to be involved to make this trade work. This is where the Phoenix Suns came in. The Suns traded away Deandre Ayton and their 2023 second round pick Toumani Camara.
In return, the Suns got back Jusuf Nurkic, Grayson Allen, Nassir Little, and Keon Johnson. Nurkic coming in to replace Ayton is huge but Allen may be the player that makes the biggest impact out of the ones the Suns received in this deal.
The Elephant In The Room
Allen does not have the best reputation as he is perceived to be a “dirty” player by fans. This is because of some incidents he had in college. Where he let his frustration get the best of him and committed fouls that were outside the realm of normal basketball plays. Which he has taken responsibility for. On several instances saying he was immature during those years.
Let’s be real, it also didn’t help that he was a white dude playing at Duke. There is a history of white players not being liked who played there. There is a ESPN 30 for 30 documentary literally named, I Hate Christian Laettner. Laettner was the biggest star of the white players from Duke, who fans loved to hate.
Allen just happen to be one of the latest in a long line that included Laettner, Chris Collins, Jay Bilas, Danny Ferry, and of course JJ Redick. Allen definitely deserves most of the blame for his reputation being what it is but he was also fighting an uphill battle.
The Jacksonville, Florida native looks to have grown up since then. He has had some moments in the NBA that can be perceived as dirty but they were normal basketball plays that fans overreacted to, due to his reputation.
White Men Can Jump
At Suns media day Allen talked about who his favorite player was growing up and how he influenced his game when he was younger.
— Damian Adams (@TheRealDealwDA) October 2, 2023
“Dwyane Wade was my favorite player growing up,” said Allen, “He was part of the reason that my favorite number was three. When I was outside, practicing in the driveway, I would have the hoop lowered down to like seven and half feet and each year I would put it up more and more as I was able to do dunks like he was. I know now that my reputation in the league is as a shooter but when I first got to college. I was a driver and a lot of the stuff that I was doing was stuff I saw D-Wade do. So my early game was heavily Dwyane Wade influenced”
The influence Wade had on Allen as a young player is easy to see.
Grayson Allen would go on to have a great career at Duke despite the immature moments he had from time to time.
During his time at Duke, Allen averaged 14.1 points per game while shooting 43% from the floor and 38% from three point range.
Perception Isn’t Always Reality
Allen was drafted by the Utah Jazz with the 21st pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. He didn’t get much playing time as a rookie but has earned lots of playing time over the last three years. In the 2020-21 season he started 38 of the 50 games he played for the Memphis Grizzlies. He averaged 10.6 points per game and shot 39% from three.
Allen has played the last two seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks. He averaged 10.7 points per game and shot 44% from the floor and 40% from three. The Bucks have been a team with goals of winning a championship over the last few seasons. So, Allen has the experience of playing on a team that is expected to win. This year won’t be anything new for him.
He is now entering into his sixth season in the league and first with the Phoenix Suns. Allen may be the fifth starter along with Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Jusuf Nurkic or he may be a very important player that comes off of the bench. Either way Allen will be pertinent to the team’s success this season.
Allen is expected to space the floor to give room for Beal, Booker, and Durant to go to work. He is also expected to attack strong close outs and either finish at the rim or make the right pass to an open shooter. While being a good defender who can hold his own against some of the best guards in the NBA.
The perception of Allen for some fans will always the “dirty” player from Duke. The reality of Grayson Allen is that is a very good player who could be an essential part of the first championship team in Phoenix Suns history.