SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Ongoing roster turnover from one season to the next forced Grayson Allen to become a basketball chameleon at Duke. He adapted to changes as they occurred and took on a new role each season.
Those experiences helped Allen get ready for whatever role is required of him as he embarks on his rookie season with the Utah Jazz.
“I’ve never been just a single focal point of an offense since I’ve been in college,” Allen said during his introductory news conference Wednesday. “I know how to play with other talented guys. I know how to play with other really good guys and that’s what you’re going to have to do in the NBA, especially coming in as a rookie and coming into a team who’s already a playoff team.”
Allen had to adapt his game over four seasons with the Blue Devils as he adjusted to the influx of one-and-done prospects. Nine different teammates were first round NBA draft picks and four others were second-rounders.
The turnover opened the door for Allen to go from being a drive-and-shoot scorer who averaged 21.6 points as a sophomore to a capable defender, playmaker and ball handler as a senior.
His goal is to improve in each of those areas as an NBA rookie, a goal shared by Jazz coaches and management.
Allen was quick to note that his assist rate improved to a career-high 4.6 per game by his senior season. He also offered a spark as an outside shooter who could hit contested 3s, finishing with a 37 percent average from the perimeter in his final year.
Utah’s playing style appeals to him because of the trajectory his own game has taken.
“They play basketball the right way,” Allen said. “I can’t say that enough. I said it right after I got drafted, but watching them play even more games, I see it more and more. They make the right pass. They pass up good shots for great shots. They move the ball. It doesn’t stick in anyone’s hands.”
Allen also likes his odds of climbing the development ladder simply because he gets an opportunity to play with Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell was the runner-up to Ben Simmons for NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 20.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists in his debut season.
Mitchell and Allen were rivals at one time during their college days, but now Allen is embracing Mitchell as a mentor and role model for his own NBA journey.
“One of the big things I’m looking forward to in development is I have Donovan to go up against every day in practice,” Allen said. “He’s a guy who had an incredible rookie year. If I can just measure up against him each day in practice, and go against him, that’s great for me.”
Allen will make his NBA debut Monday, the opening day of the Utah Jazz Summer League.
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