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Should Grayson Allen Stay at Duke or Go to the NBA?

Grayson Allen Duke
Photo: Robert Hanashiro-USATSI

A look at whether Duke guard Grayson Allen should return to school for his junior season or declare for the 2016 NBA Draft. Here’s a case for either side of the argument.

WHY GRAYSON SHOULD LEAVE

His Stock has Peaked – What Else Can He Do?

With the influx of talent arriving at Duke next year, we likely won’t see Grayson Allen dominate the competition as much as he did this year. Allen averaged 21.6 points per game to go along with 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists. The Jacksonville, Florida native garnered multiple awards this season, including 1st Team All-ACC, All-American honors from several media outlets, and Academic All-America laurels.

It’ll be a tough task to top his performance this season with guys like Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles, and Frank Jackson coming in, coupled with Luke Kennard and Derryck Thornton growing with experience. He’s already won a national championship and established himself as an elite player in college basketball. It’s not identical but it’s similar to the Tyus Jones situation last season – what else can he show us?

2016 Draft is Weaker

The general conception is that Allen is a late first-round to early second-round draft pick in a somewhat weak draft. Without a doubt, Allen’s superstar role will be subdued next season if he returns and, with the 2017 NBA Draft projected as a deep draft class, is it worth risking falling to the late 2nd round?

His numbers are bound to decline and offensively he’ll likely take a backseat to Tatum, along with dominating the ball less. I personally think Allen could be a first rounder in the 2017 draft but the talent expected in the 2017 pool supersedes 2016’s and there’s no guarantee Allen flourishes in his slightly altered role.

Possibility of Joining an Elite Team

With many projecting Grayson to go late in the first round, the possibility of joining a team like the Spurs, Warriors, or Cavs is too good to pass up. If there’s one thing in the world Allen can’t stand, it’s losing. Grayson and the Spurs are a terrific fit, especially with Manu Ginobili retiring after this season.

The most intriguing aspect of him joining San Antonio is that he gets to learn from some of the greatest winners in sports and becomes part of the best player-developmental system in the NBA. If you’ve seen the work Gregg Popovich and his staff have done with guys like Gary Neal, Danny Green, George Hill, and Kawhi Leonard, you know Grayson’s future would be beyond bright if he landed in San Antonio. Not to mention, Spurs legend and Duke father David Robinson can put in a good word to that San Antonio front office.


WHY GRAYSON SHOULD STAY

Education

This may be the biggest factor in Grayson’s decision to leave or enter his name in the draft. If you know Grayson Allen, you know he’s preached education before he even stepped on campus. He truly embodies what it means to be a student-athlete. He’s a two-time Academic All-ACC honoree for a reason, so to put his degree on hold to go to the next level won’t be an easy decision for him. His passion for Duke goes beyond basketball.

Disprove the “Can’t Score Against Long Athletic Defenders ” Notion

After his dreadful performance against Kentucky earlier in the season, Grayson Allen was quickly labeled with the notion that he can’t score against elite athletes and talent. I initially turned down that idea until he shot 6-for-17 from the field against Miami. It became evident that Allen struggled scoring against teams with length and athleticism. His field goal percentage was abysmal against teams like UNC, UVA, and most recently Oregon.

Allen has not shown the ability to get by longer defenders and those defenders have exposed his isolation game a bit. He was most effective in drives off dribble handoffs, which he can credit to Coach K, but when it came down to getting past elite defenders, Allen couldn’t do it. If he came back to Duke, Allen must work on sharpening his ball-handling skills and changing direction. I don’t think it’s a major red flag in the draft but it could make a team or two pass on him.

Be Part of Something Special AGAIN

It’s always special donning the uniform with the letters D-U-K-E, but next year’s team is going to have a different feeling and expectation than this year’s squad. Obviously, Grayson has reached the pinnacle of college basketball and he’s been part of one of the most unforgettable Duke teams of all-time. Well, why not do it again?

If Grayson Allen returns, he’ll be part of one of the most talented Duke teams of all-time again. but this time, it could be a bit different. If Grayson were to return, there’s a strong possibility Coach K will select him as a captain. Nonetheless, he will be looked upon as a leader, and being a leader on a historic team is quite different than being the eighth man.

2 comments

  1. One reason I would have cited for leaving is the ridiculous amount of negative press that has mostly come from the Worldwide leader.  I wouldn’t blame him one bit for leaving that behind but I would also be super impressed if he decided to stay and gut it out for at least one more year.  Even if he decides to leave, we”ll still be loaded with wing options so I don’t think it’s make or break, much in the same way Jabari’s decision was not make or break for the the ’14-’15 squad. I do think it would be wise for Grayson to take advantage of the new draft rules and test the waters.  There he will get a truly informed evaluation of what he needs to work on and where he’s likely to get drafted.  Selfishly, I want to see him back in the royal blue but if he decides to leave then I would applaud him for making the right decision for him, and for an outstanding 2 year career at Duke.

  2. Since he is an Academic All-American at one of the finest universities in the world,  he shouldn’t get tripped up by dollar signs. I bet he will stay and play.