Home / Duke Basketball / Why the Grayson Allen Suspension is a Good Thing for Duke

Why the Grayson Allen Suspension is a Good Thing for Duke

Grayson Allen | Photo: Chris Summerville

The Duke basketball team announced this morning that Grayson Allen has been suspended indefinitely following its review of last night’s incident in which he intentionally tripped Steven Santa Ana of Elon.

It’s the third time Allen has tripped an opposing player and Wednesday night’s action, and subsequent display following the incident, has drawn the attention of national media, which also criticized Mike Krzyzewski for not immediately suspending the junior guard.

I’m not going to get into what Coach K should have done (or not done) during the game or immediately afterwards, because what matters now is that the program has elected to suspend Allen indefinitely. So, let’s move forward from that.

This is a unique situation that could actually help the Blue Devils.

As odd as it sounds, Duke just suspended the Preseason National Player of the Year and returning All-American and it may make the team even better.

The 2015-16 Duke team is one of the most talented rosters Mike Krzyzewski has ever coached during his tenure in Durham.

In Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles, Marques Bolden, Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, and Frank Jackson, you have six players projected as potential 1st round draft picks, whether it’s the 2016 or 2017 NBA Draft.

That also doesn’t account for Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson, two seniors who impact the game in so many ways that go unnoticed. In my opinion, Jefferson is still this program’s most irreplaceable player.

Duke is loaded. There’s no disputing that.

And if you’ve been paying attention this season, Grayson Allen hasn’t been a major part of this team’s success.

It’s true Allen has struggled with injuries, but it doesn’t change that fact that he’s shooting 38% from the field and only 33% from 3-point range. Aside from his 34-point performance against UNLV, Allen has played poorly for much of the year.

Luke Kennard is having a breakout sophomore year, leading the team at 20.4 points per game and establishing himself as a legitimate National Player of the Year contender.

Amile Jefferson has also worked his way into becoming one of the best frontcourt players in the ACC, averaging 14.2 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks, while also playing terrific interior defense.

Jefferson and Kennard are the biggest reasons Duke is 12-1 and the fifth ranked team in the country, and I haven’t even mentioned Jayson Tatum.

After sitting out the first eight games of the season because of a foot injury, the highly touted freshman and potential No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft is steadily working his way into form and showing the skills that make him a potential star at the college and NBA level.

At 6’8”, 205 pounds, Tatum has size, length and athleticism that make him a difficult matchup for opponents. Combine his physical gifts with a dizzying array of offensive moves and perimeter shooting range, and you get a player who becomes nearly unstoppable when he’s 100%. We haven’t seen that player yet because Tatum has admitted he’s still getting into game-shape and adjusting, but it’s coming.

And when he gets there, Duke will have two of the most explosive wing players in college basketball in Jayson Tatum and Luke Kennard.

Two players to build around, along with key supporting roles for guys like Amile Jefferson, Matt Jones, Frank Jackson, Marques Bolden, Harry Giles, and even Grayson Allen.

The biggest question that remains for this team is at the point guard position, where Duke doesn’t have a natural point guard on the roster who can immediately fill the role. However, Frank Jackson is still likely the best fit for the position, and the Allen suspension affords Coach K the opportunity to give the freshman guard more extended minutes in the role.

A lineup of Frank Jackson, Luke Kennard, Matt Jones, Jayson Tatum, and Amile Jefferson could be strong on both ends of the floor for the Blue Devils, and you could have devastating weapons off the bench in Giles, Allen, and Bolden.

The biggest challenge Mike Krzyzewski likely faces is buy-in from all the players on the roster, many of whom have never had to deal with being role players.

There was a hint at some discord last night in Luke Kennard’s post-game comments, when he was quoted as saying that everyone’s “not bought in” and “consumed in just being one.”

This is always a potential challenge when you have a collection of incredibly talented players, but this is where Krzyzewski has been at his best in many previous situations.

With Allen on the bench, that likely leads to more opportunities for Kennard, Tatum, and Jefferson. Based on how they’ve played this season, that certainly appears to be a good thing. Now, it’s a matter of everyone on the roster seeing it that way.

13 comments

  1. I disagree with most of what you say David.  I’ve said before the start of the season that chemistry would be the biggest concern.  This is K’s most talented bunch, in terms of numbers, and when you combine that with the fact that he normally only plays 7 good minutes, chemistry would be an issue.  Injuries have made it easier for Kenard to shine, as he has.  Grayson hasn’t been as good as he was last season.  How could he with more talent this year and with him fighting off an aggravating foot (toe) injury?  To say that the team may be better now is an insult to Allen’s talents on the court, and a ridiculous comment as well.  I’m not excusing his tripping episodes at all, and I agree with the suspension, but to me Duke has lost the most important piece.  His electricity on the court and his unselfishness in passing the ball are talents that you obviously haven’t  paid attention to.  His scoring was bound to come down, as was Luke’s and Amile’s bound to increase.  Yes Amile has played really well, as he should, since he’s pretty much been the only big in game, unless you count Jeter, and he is still a work in progress.  Your article gives no credit to what Grayson has brought to team, yet you compliment Matt Jones, who I think plays way too much.  I truly hope that Grayson gets his act together, because personally I don’t think Duke can win it all without him.  To me you haven’t given him credit he so deserves.

  2. Me personally I was thinking Frank Jackson should see more minutes but I was more looking forward to a bigger lineup that was now able to get Bolden and Giles looks along side Jefferson. This traditional lineup would feature Tatum at the 3 and Jones/Kennard in the backcourt. Jackson would get minutes giving those 2 a breather. I know that Jones does it “under the radar” but I admittedly would like more Jackson and less Jones. I don’t think his defense is so strong that he will make the NBA b/c of it and Jackson is an NBA talent. Of course this goes against what K thinks and the whole intangibles Jones brings. To me Bolden already has a disappointed/disenchanted look on the bench, but he’s shown nothing when on the floor and Jeter has looked better. It may be hard for Bolden to get in a rhythm with the small amount of PT he has received and I’m betting at this point he’s regretting his decision. Is this what Kennard is hinting at? At this time this team seems more likely to crash and burn than be the juggernaut we were hoping it would be. Everyone anointed Duke the favorites after the destruction of a weak UNLV team. Those two games against Tennessee State and Elon should have been 30 point blowouts no matter which way you slice it. But the team struggled with hitting jump shots and I can see them struggling to stop good backcourts after seeing TSU drive to the basket all day. McCall had 7 made FG’s in the paint. We already saw Kansas Frank Mason take advantage of that too recording 6 of his 8 made FG’s in the paint and of course he got to the spot he wanted on the game winner. They give up a lot of back door cuts too which is something of a weakness for years. Perhaps getting 2 shot blockers on the floor could be handy for either of these problems……. The suspension is merited and I was very disappointed when it happened. Allen hasn’t been himself, perhaps this break also gives him the chance to get mentally and physically straight. Its going to be January, team still has 2 months to figure it out.

  3. Tommy Duke What did Luke say to make you think the team is on a crash course?

  4. LouisiAaronJohnson Tommy Duke The crash course reference is just me probably over reacting to a week where the team just didn’t play that well. They set the bar high after the UNLV game and all the media coverage had me hyped to think this team was paper champions. I guess I was expecting better performances vs 2 mid majors.
     The article above mentions Kennard saying not everyone has bought in to winning as a group and not as individuals – and there is a link that you can click to see the twitter message someone posted. Of course the full statement isn’t there so you can’t see all the context of Luke’s statement. Plenty of time for this team to excel.

  5. Tommy Duke LouisiAaronJohnson

  6. I agree with the premise here – having the “star” and “face” of the team take a back seat for a few games will force other players to step up and take some ownership – while also opening up minutes for other players (primarily Frank Jackson, but hopefully also Bolden and Giles).

    Beyond the minutes opening up for other guys to develop and show what they have, it is also an opportunity for Grayson to get healthy. We know what we have in him as a player and competitor, the fact that he returned surprised many people given the season he had last year and the late season contributions he made two years ago.

    I wish K would open up the bench a bit more, but part of that no doubt goes to Giles JUST coming back, Tatum/Bolden still getting into game shape and Allen’s previous injuries.
    The next few games/weeks need to be about guys getting into shape, buying-in and then Allen came come back to play a crucial role for a team that is as talented as any in the nation. The best news is – still have MONTHS before the tournament for guys to get into shape, build further chemistry and figure out roles.

  7. Kennard made that statement for some reason.  Whether it one or several people Duke has to have chemistry with all this talent.  Unfortunately Coach K will not let it all out. 

    Duke needs bigs on the boards and Vran sits and Bolden has not stepped up as of todate.  Even in Countdown he was outmanned by Jeter for all but the final 5 minutes.   

    Giles sat out the whole 1st semester – hint.  Realistically he will not be ACC basketball ready for several more weeks – timing alone is a factor.

    Allen has let more than the team down.  The young man needs counseling and may have cost himself a first round pick if he is drafted this year. 

    The time to step up is this week.

  8. I’m actually hoping that Grayson will evolve into the PG for this team.  I believe he is currently leading the team in assists and has made several nice passes this year that lead me to believe that he can play the position effectively.  Given his height (6″4), I think it would serve his personal interests w/NBA scouts along with the teams interests.  It would no doubt be hard for him to relinquish the alpha dog mentaility he has on offense but I think it would release some tension that seems to be boiling underneath the surface (see Kennard’s comments).  In this scenario, here’s the lineup:

    PG- Grayson
    SG- Kennard
    SF- Jones
    PF- Tatum
    C-   Amile
    Bench: Frank, Giles, Bolden/Jeter

    God bless Matt Jones but he just does not look comfortable at PG.  He is a great on ball defender and communicator so I do see the value of having him in the starting lineup but I also don’t believe he should be playing more than 25+ minutes with the amount of depth we have.  I’m also really hoping the bigs can get going because the ACC looks super big and physical this year.  I’m fine with Tatum starting games at the 4 but I believe for us not to get worn down by the bigger and more physical teams (UNC, UVA, Lou) we will need heavy production from Giles, and some combination of Bolden/Jeter.  I’m not sure if the injury is lingering or what but Bolden just does not look bought in so far. Even with all the turmoil so far, we’re sitting one shot away from being undefeated.  If we can stay healthy and defnine roles then I think we should just fine.

  9. patowens2423 
    I personally think Allen has been frustrated with his teammates, and honestly, think that has pushed him over the edge.  I’m definitely not excusing his actions against Elon.  I think the freshmen, in particular Tatum, are a little selfish, as is Kenard in my opinion.  What I’m saying probably won’t sit well with some Duke fans, especially given how well Kenard is playing, but it’s what I see.  Grayson to me is the most selfish of the good talent on team, and I think he hasn’t liked the lack of chemistry. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s my take.  K deserves some of blame on Allen.  He should have been suspended a game last year for a game by him after Florida State, and that has magnified this latest episode.  K has a lot of Bobby Knight in him, “Do as I say, not as I do.

  10. I meant Grayson is most unselfish of the take t

  11. what    Ralph   answered   I  didn’t   know   that  anybody   can   get   paid   $6830   in  1  month  on  the   computer .

    i was reading this>>>>>>>>>>>www.4new-way.com

  12. Rob Mac patowens2423

    Pat and Mac – I have to disagree with your comments of Allen.   Yes Pat mentioned he did this last year, was he frustrated then too?   His tantrum in the Elon game is more than frustration, that is something you would see from a child on a playground who did get his way.  The young man has some problems and needs serious counseling.  If K was honest about indefinite suspension, counseling takes time – a lot of time and cannot be compacted into between three or four games.  

    In the meantime, hopefully someone other than Matt Jones plays point.  Matt’s a great defender and needs to be in the starting rotation.  Allen as point was not shooting well, throwing up a lot of bricks, and he was out of position for rebounds.

  13. My Uncle Xavier got an awesome gold Mercedes C-Class C63 AMG by
    working part-time from
    a home computer… i was reading this………….http://www.pajama-job.com/