Utah Jazz rookie Grayson Allen sets tone during NBA Summer League that he’s no pushover
LAS VEGAS — It’s safe to say that Grayson Allen isn’t making any new friends outside of Salt Lake City.
And it doesn’t bother the Utah Jazz rookie one bit, either.
Although it’s Summer League, the former Duke star isn’t backing down from anyone.
You can’t back down. Once you back down, they see food and they just get right back at you again, so I’m trying to set the tone for myself, now so when it carries on to the regular season, I know what to do.
In Thursday’s Utah Jazz Summer League finale, he stood up to No. 5 pick Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks in the third quarter after being tangled up while trying to contest his shot. Allen hooked his arms around Young’s shoulder, which drew minor commotion and both players were hit with technical fouls.
Then in Utah’s Summer League opener against the Portland Trail Blazers at Cox Pavilion on Saturday, Allen was once again caught up in a skirmish.
This time, Portland’s Wade Baldwin IV was ejected for shoving Allen in the face in the fourth quarter. Baldwin ended with a game-high 20 points and five assists before being ejected, while Allen posted 16 points, six rebounds and five assists on 6-for-17 shooting as the Jazz fell 93-78.
But more importantly, Allen is proving something to himself in these heated situations.
“It’s not necessarily important for league-wide right now, but it’s important for yourself,” said Allen, who was selected 21st overall in the draft. “I have to set the tone with myself. I have to know playing in the NBA as a rookie, guys are going to be physical with you, they’re going to come at you, they’re gonna test you and see what you got and you’re gonna get beat, you’re gonna fail, but you’ve got to come right back at them the next time and keep being physical, keep playing your game.
“You can’t back down,” he continued. “Once you back down, they see food and they just get right back at you again, so I’m trying to set the tone for myself, now so when it carries on to the regular season, I know what to do.”
Tony Bradley, Allen’s teammate, enjoys that competitive spirit. Although the two are former college rivals, with Allen previously starring at Duke and Bradley formerly playing for North Carolina, they now enjoy competing together as Jazz players.
“He’s aggressive offensively and defensively,” said Bradley, who ended with 16 points and six rebounds against Portland. “He doesn’t let anyone push him around, and that’s a good piece for his. Also, he can shoot, he can knock down threes and create his own shot.”
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Allen’s father, William, said he developed that tenacity as a kid playing on the side of the house in Jacksonville, Florida. At Duke, he developed a reputation as a dirty player after being involved in a few on-court tripping incidents, but he’s trying to put that behind him in Utah.
Jazz Summer League coach Alex Jensen was impressed with Allen’s ability to penetrate, draw in the defense and kick it out to open shooters. As the rest of the group is adjusting to playing together, Jensen expects the Jazz to improve.
One thing he doesn’t have to worry about is Allen being punked out on the floor despite his choir-boy features.
“It’s great,” Jensen said. “I think he kept it in control, but yeah he’s playing hard regardless of the score.”
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Published at Sat, 07 Jul 2018 23:09:00 +0000