It’s time for Grayson to bounce.
Head to the NBA, man. He doesn’t get the calls he deserves, and we’re cool with that because he plays for Duke. He’s white, too, so it’s okay for us to hate him. In fact, it’s advantageous for college basketball media if you hate him, so hate away. There’s nothing that screams “Grayson Allen, come back for your Junior year” other than maybe not quite being NBA-ready, or being a tremendous Duke homer who just wants him to say, but we’ll get to both of those topics in a minute.
All you need to know right now is that Grayson Allen has to get paid at the end of this year and leave this college basketball behind. It’s not for him anymore.
In a year where freedom of movement was supposed to be an emphasis for referees, players like Allen, who thrive off of perpetual motion away from the ball and relentless assaults on the rim with it, were going to own college basketball. Some have, but not Allen. At least not in the way you’d expect.
Allen is grabbed on nearly every cut. Nearly every drive is met with an arm bar to knock him off of his path. Defenders body him at the rim, or in the case of the biggest call that went against him in Louisville yesterday, defenders attempt to slide under him to slow him down. A guy elbowed him in the head, and stayed in the game. He said it was intentional after the game, and we’re cool with that. You’re not getting those calls, Grayson. And no one is going to feel bad for you.
Traditionally, teams, including Duke, and maybe even ESPECIALLY Duke, would cross the line with defensive pressure knowing that referees won’t call every foul. The rules were supposed to punish that approach and reward attacking basketball. Allen tests that emphasis on every touch, forcing referees to keep that promise, and they’ve come up woefully short in that regard.
And hey … bad calls do happen. One of the most high-profile bad calls of the year ended up in Allen’s favor with the missed up-and-down traveling call on the game winner versus Virginia. He traveled, and there’s not much else to say about that. This isn’t about that. This is about the systematic blind-eye to freedom of movement that is turning college basketball into the same slop that forced a promised improvement in the first place. And it kills a guy like Grayson Allen.
This is not debatable. It’s fact. But we don’t want to hear it from Coach K, and that’s okay. We all know why. Doesn’t make it wrong, though.
He’s still scoring 21 points per game, good for 2nd in the league behind NC State’s Cat Barber’s 23.1 points per game, a player who has outscored Allen by 47 points from the free throw line on 50 more attempts. He’s having a tremendous college basketball season in spite of his challenges that have nothing to do with the way he plays his game, but would absolutely thrive in the NBA with referees who would allow him room to do his thing, and media and fans who would appreciate it when it happens.
But, like we said before, he’s a little small to be an off-guard and not quite strong enough to be a point in the NBA. But if an NBA franchise wants to take a pass because of current limitations in his game? That’s on them. Because the path Allen took from one scholarship offer (Florida Gulf Coast, by the way) to the last guy off of the bench for Duke as a freshman to being a first-team All-ACC guy in the span of 3 years tells you all you need to know about what Grayson Allen will do to get where he wants to be.
If you’re not a Duke fan, you probably closed out this window as soon as you saw it was something honest about Grayson Allen instead of more hate-porn to feed your own personal bias as a fan. If you are a Duke fan, you’re probably still with me at this point, but you’re mad because “why is this guy telling Grayson to leave Duke?”
Grayson Allen IS hero ball. He wants the ball, and when he has it, he wants to score. Yeah, he’s got some court vision and is a pretty good passer, but first and foremost, his DNA tells him to go to the rim and finish through contact, for better (think Long Beach State where he scored 33 points and went to the line 17 times) or worse (think Kentucky, or Louisville, where he attacked the basket without reward). It works on this year’s team just fine. It’s also why he sat the bench last year.
You don’t mix in hero ball with Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor on the court, just like you don’t mix it with Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles. Derryck Thornton? Perfect for that team. Matt Jones? Perfect. Luke Kennard? Like a glove. Forget Allen losing money by coming back for his Junior year (which he would), he’d likely cost Duke a chance at a roster custom-fit for an NCAA national championship run.
All reasons point to why Allen should leave after this year. For himself. For his team. For the team who is smart enough to draft him.
But mainly, college basketball doesn’t deserve Grayson Allen. Not anymore. Congratulations, college basketball …