One of the notable elements of Duke Basketball’s roller-coaster 2016-2017 season was the inconsistent and turbulent nature of the campaign for Grayson Allen. The junior guard was a consensus preseason All-American selection, and was on the short-list of early candidates for the Naismith National Player of the Year Award. What followed was a season in which Allen perpetrated yet another absurd tripping act, and struggled with injury and scoring. Allen may have been looking at a first round draft selection prior to this year, but especially given the depth of the talent pool in this summer’s NBA Draft, he would likely fall to the second round. This is just one of the reasons that Allen should return to Duke for his senior season. Here are a few more.
At this point in his collegiate career, it’s going to be just about impossible for Allen to fully repair his reputation with fans across the country. He has essentially become the equivalent of what J.J. Redick was at Duke over a decade ago. That said, Allen could have a massive role in leading next year’s team. With the departure of experienced leaders Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones, Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles declaring for the NBA Draft, and a number of transfers (including Chase Jeter and the reported transfer of Marques Bolden), Allen could be the guy in the locker room this upcoming season. It would be a role that would force Allen to mature, which could be absolutely invaluable to his makeup as a pro.
Another shot at a national title
Allen has one national championship under his belt as a member of the 2015 squad, but has struggled to embrace being the go-to guy at Duke. With Allen back in the fold as well as the possible return of sophomore guard Luke Kennard, the Blue Devils would bring back two key players in addition to a fourth-ranked recruiting class that includes prized big man Wendell Carter. Duke would likely have another shot at winning it all next season, which would be a fantastic sendoff for Allen and could cement his legacy as one of the better players in Duke’s history.
Putting it all together
There were times when Allen was unquestionably the most impactful player on the floor for Duke, like the home win against North Carolina and an incredible second half shooting display that propelled the Blue Devils to a home win over Pitt. There were also stretches where Allen simply disappeared, like a five-game stretch in February where he averaged just 6.8 points per game and battled through an ankle injury. Allen’s explosive athleticism and ability to shoot make him a dual threat on any given night, but his mindset needs to be more consistent: attack more. Allen played his best basketball when he attacked off the bounce; his underrated distribution of the ball was phenomenal throughout the ACC Tournament, but it was because he was assertive on the offensive end. Allen has the potential to put it all together and have the kind of season he was predicted to have this year, but he must embrace the challenge. If he does…
… He could be a first-round pick in the NBA Draft. Maybe even just outside of the lottery. Again, his raw talent and athleticism give him a chance to be successful in the NBA, but first he needs to prove that he can excel in the spotlight, and be a more mature figure for Duke.