Utah Jazz select Grayson Allen with 21st pick
By JOHN COON
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) A reputation as a dirty player followed Grayson Allen throughout his career at Duke. Allen is hoping he can carve out a new identity with the Utah Jazz.
Allen's goal after being selected by the Jazz with the 21st overall pick on Thursday night is simple. He aims to win over fans, coaches, and teammates with passion for the game. The newest Jazz rookie thinks he can accomplish this goal at a rapid pace.
"It's a lot different watching a guy play night in and night out and giving his all than it is to see the same three clips replayed for the last three years," Allen said.
The Jazz are willing to let his past stay in the past. When Utah brought him in for a workout earlier in June, Allen left behind a positive impression as an intelligent player who matured and learned from his mistakes.
They like his toughness and his approach to the game.
"We don't want that competitive fire to go anywhere," Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said.
The 6-foot-5 guard appears to be a solid fit for what Utah wants on offense and defense.
Allen offers potential as a reliable outside shooter. He played in 142 games and made 97 starts in four seasons with the Blue Devils. During that time, he scored 1,996 career points to rank 12th on Duke's career scoring list. The 22 year-old rookie became one of just five players in Duke history to tally at least 1,900 points, 400 rebounds and 400 assists.
With Allen, the Jazz add a player who can play both guard positions and he gives them another shooter on the wing. Bolstering outside shooting is an offseason priority for Utah.
Allen can also defend multiple positions, which makes him a good fit with one of the NBA's top defensive teams. He credits playing several new teammates every season, including multiple lottery picks, for his versatility. It forced Allen to evolve into a new role each season.
"It was awesome for my game because I had to learn to adjust," Allen said. "I had to learn how to find different spots on the court. I had to expand my game."
His willingness to take on any role is a trait that impressed the Jazz from day one.
"He talked about what he had to sacrifice when he decided to stay," Lindsey said. "Look, he's going to have to sacrifice here as a young player. The fact he had done that three out of four years at Duke, we were impressed with it."
Allen's approach to defense stirred up controversy at times during his career at Duke. He drew accusations of dirty play as a defender.
One notable altercation involved Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. Allen got hit in the face by Mitchell during a game between Duke and Louisville in January 2017. Mitchell didn't appear to hold any grudges on Thursday. He crashed an ESPN interview with Allen to give the rookie a warm embrace.
"It's really cool when you get a warm welcome like that from the guy who was the leading scorer on your team last year right away," Allen said. "It kind of calms any nerves that you have joining a new team."
If Allen sticks with Utah, it will be the first time in three seasons that the Jazz did not trade their original first-round draft selection before the start of the NBA season. Utah traded its original first-round selections in 2016 and 2017.
Last season, the Jazz made a pair of draft-day trades. The first one brought Mitchell, the 13th pick, to Utah in exchange for Trey Lyles and 24th pick Tyler Lydon. A second trade brought 28th pick Tony Bradley to the Jazz while sending 30th pick Josh Hart and 42nd pick Thomas Bryant to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Utah did trade second-round pick Vincent Edwards to Houston on Thursday. The Jazz selected Edwards, a 6-foot-8 forward from Purdue, with the 52nd pick. Edwards was the first player in school history to tally 1,500 career points, 700 rebounds and 400 assists with the Boilermakers.
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Updated June 22, 2018