As soon as Kansas knocked off Duke in the Elite Eight, Chicago Bulls fans started dreaming about which Blue Devils star would look best on the United Center floor. Names like Wendell Carter, Jr. and Marvin Bagley III are certainly on the radar, but another name will be tossed out as an option: Grayson Allen.
Yes. That Grayson Allen.
Many have connected Allen as a potential fit for the Bulls. According to Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago, Allen is someone who the front office covets.
Make no mistake, the Bulls are NOT thinking about using their lottery pick on him. If anything they’d take a flyer on with their late first-rounder (via the New Orleans Pelicans) or a second-round pick. That range is where many mock drafts have Allen going.
But, to quote the late Nancy Reagan, the Bulls should “just say no” to Allen.
His legacy in college hoops is very checkered to say the least. Allen developed a reputation as a punk dating back to his sophomore season, making him the guy who opposing fans loved to hate. The new-age Christian Laettner.
Unfortunately for Allen, many fans and experts don’t think of his successes on the court. They recall all the times he tripped, stepped on and delivered groin shots to opponents. Not to mention, he also did plenty of whining to refs and had odd outbursts on the bench.
But he did accomplish quite a bit on the floor, and some of those achievements will be attractive to NBA teams. Averaging around 14 points a game during his four years at Duke and being a surprisingly key contributor to a national championship team as a freshman in 2015 is pretty impressive.
As a 6-foot-4 combo guard, Allen has shown sneaky athleticism. His quickness and high motor frustrated many defenders, and it always helped him create open looks anywhere on the floor against a fair share of zone and man-to-man schemes.
He also had a knack for heating up. There were many times throughout his college career where he’d catch fire. For instance, during a game last November at the United Center, Allen torched Michigan State with a career-high 37 points, going 11 of 20 from the field and 7 of 11 from three-point range.
The performance happened in front of quite a few NBA scouts and executives, including Bulls GM Gar Forman.
But for every game where Allen went off, there were plenty of times he was ice cold, missing everything from wide-open threes to bunny lay-ups. And his inability to create shots off the dribble made it hard for him to break out of any funk.
His latest stretch in the tournament is a good example. During Duke’s respective match-ups against Syracuse and Kansas in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, Allen shot a combined 7 of 28 from the field and 5 of 23 from three.
Many like to compare Allen to J.J. Reddick. Like Allen, Reddick is a former Duke combo guard who many doubted coming into the NBA. However, no one ever denied the fact Reddick was a pure shooter and someone who could knock down open looks consistently. As a result, he’s carved out a solid niche in a league that has become much more run-and-gun oriented since his rookie season.
Allen’s streaky shooting and lack of defensive prowess are major concerns at the next level. In fact, those concerns compare better with Reddick’s rival Adam Morrison.
When Morrison was at Gonzaga, he also had sneaky quickness to get open looks, but he was always streaky at best. And sometimes his big scoring outputs were purely based on a high volume of shots.
Morrison’s struggles eventually caught up to him at the next level. That’s why he is coaching high school basketball now.
If Allen was streaky against inferior competition in college, it should give you pause about what to expect in the NBA, where defenses can quickly take away any airspace to get an open look.
One thing is for sure: Allen will get an opportunity. But should that be in Chicago?
The only sensible reason his name keeps popping up is due to the front office’s track record. Despite a league that loves youth, GarPax can’t get enough of the seasoned collegiate players. Since 2003, they’ve drafted upperclassmen like:
- Kirk Hinrich (2003 – senior)
- Ben Gordon (2004 – junior)
- Chris Duhon (2004 – senior)
- Joakim Noah (2007 – senior)
- Taj Gibson (2009 – junior)
- Jimmy Butler (2011 – senior)
- Tony Snell (2013 – junior)
- Doug McDermott (2014 – senior)
- Denzel Valentine (2016 – senior)
Other than his age and college experience, there aren’t a lot of reasons that make him a logical fit on the Bulls. Is he the type of consistent shooter who can excel in Fred Hoiberg’s pace-and-space system? Does he have the ability to stay in front of NBA guards defensively?
Right now, the answer to both is a definitive “no.”
His skills could translate well in the right situation. For instance, playing the role of a microwave scorer on a title contender might suit his strengths best and give him more time to develop in the NBA.
But for the rebuilding Bulls, the draft should be about finding can’t-miss guys or athletic freaks with high upside.
That’s why Allen isn’t worth a gamble in 2018.