NBA

Did Grayson Allen’s Reputation Play a Role in the Memphis Grizzlies Missing the Playoffs?

Former Duke star and current Memphis Grizzlies guard Grayson Allen doesn’t have the greatest reputation on the basketball court. Allen has been known as being a dirty player, one who sneakily trips players as they head down the court. He’s been assessed several flagrant fouls for cheap shots in both his college and pro careers. Did his reputation prove costly in the Grizzlies’ must-win game Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers? The Blazers eked out a 126-122 win and eliminated Allen’s Grizzlies.

Grayson Allen’s reputation at Duke

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Sometimes it’s a sneaky little trip and other times is a flagrant foul out of frustration. Either way, Grayson Allen is one of those players that fans love to hate. Allen, a 2018 first-round pick of the Utah Jazz who was part of a 2019 deal to the Memphis Grizzlies for Mike Conley, came into the NBA as a talented but immature player.

Allen is a sharp-shooting guard who played his college ball at Duke, but quickly developed a reputation for being a dirty player. As a sophomore playing for the Blue Devils, he was twice caught tripping a player within a month. According to ESPN, Allen became a hated man in the world of social media. Entering the 2016-17 season, Allen said he understood what people thought of him, but was ready to show he wasn’t a dirty player.

“I know there’s never completely a blank slate,” Grayson said to ESPN. “That’s going to be replayed and not forgotten about. But for me, every opportunity I get to step on the court is an opportunity to play the game again. And play the game the right way.” Two months later, Allen tripped Elon’s Steven Santa Ana and then hip-checked UNC’s Garrison Brooks in the ACC tourney.

Allen’s reputation carried over into the NBA

Grayson Allen was taken with the 21st overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft. Allen was selected by the Utah Jazz and played in just 38 games, starting two, in his rookie season. He averaged 10.9 minutes and 5.6 points per game. Allen was then traded to the Memphis Grizzlies along with Darius Bazley, Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, and a first-round pick for Mike Conley.

Allen’s reputation came back into play during an NBA Summer League game when he was a member of the Grizzlies. With his team getting blown out in the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics, Allen, again, let his frustration get the best of him. Allen committed flagrant fouls on consecutive possessions and was ejected from the game. His actions on the court drew the ire of ESPN analyst Dan Dakich who was calling the game.

“Duke defended him ad nauseam, enabled him, and now it continues,” Dakich said after the first flagrant against Boston’s Grant Williams. “And, truthfully, it’s just exhausting.” Williams then got the ball on the ensuing possession and Allen swung mightily as Williams went to the basket. “Just get him out of this game now,” Dakich said. “I don’t even think he was swinging at the ball. This infuriates me.”

Allen’s technical costly in Memphis’ season-ending loss

The Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers met Saturday in a play-in game to determine the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. The Grizzlies held a six-point, fourth-quarter lead when Portland’s Damian Lillard drove to the basket, and Grayson Allen was called for a foul. Allen swung wildly in an attempt to block Lillard’s shot.

Replays appear to show Allen either missing the ball completely or getting a small piece of the ball, but avoiding contact with Lillard. Allen argued the call and was quickly issued a technical foul. Lillard made both free throws and then the technical foul to cut the Grizzlies lead to 101-98 and swing momentum in Portland’s favor. The Blazers went on to win 126-122 and eliminate the Grizzlies.

By the looks of things, Allen’s foul was clearly a bad call. The technical was also issued pretty quickly. The combination of Allen swinging at the ball wildly and his reputation of being a dirty player and a hothead may have played a role in both the foul and technical. It’s possible Allen’s sour attitude and poor reputation may have caught up with him and proved costly for the Grizzlies.