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Grayson Allen has been a saving grace for the Suns

An afterthought at the time in the Deandre Ayton trade, Allen has been one of the most consistent Suns in 2023-24

Memphis Grizzlies v Phoenix Suns Photo by Kate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images

“We targeted Grayson (Allen) as someone who can help us,” James Jones said at media day ahead of the 2023-24 season, just days after acquiring the guard as part of the Deandre Ayton trade.

It was a drive-by mention in a longer answer about the trade return, but Allen proves night after night that he is invaluable to this Phoenix Suns team.

Nearing the halfway point of the regular season with the Suns sitting at 19-18, Allen is second on the team in games started (32) behind Jusuf Nurkic (35) as well as second in minutes (1069) behind Kevin Durant (1110).

He’s also second in 3-point percentage (47.2%) behind Durant (47.4%) and the two of them are second and third in the entire league behind Milwaukee Bucks guard Malik Beasley (47.7%).

But it’s Allen’s multiplicity on offense that makes him such a weapon.

Allen keeps defenses honest with his pairing of effective shooting and ability to attack off the bounce. At the same media day, Allen likened himself to more of a Dwyane Wade-type of player for much of his early career, preferring slashing to shooting.

Now in his sixth NBA season, jump shots make up 63% of his shots, but he’s still managing to rank fourth on the team in drives per game (6.4) and first outside the Big 3 of Durant, Beal, and Devin Booker.

The two elements of his offense — shooting and attacking — play into each other, which is something Allen acknowledged after a career-best 9-of-14 night from deep in which he tied the franchise record for most 3s made in a game.

“I try to make the same read whether the previous shot has gone in or not. You kinda know that after hitting a few, they’re gonna close out a little harder,” Allen said. “They were leaving their feet early to try to contest and run me off the line, and so I knew I needed to get downhill, get to the paint.”

Allen has feasted in this offensive situation, tallying then-career best eight 3-pointer nights on two occasions earlier this season and just got out of a nine-game stretch where he hit at least two 3s in each game. During the stretch, he shot 51.5% on 7.3 attempts per game while also posting respectable playmaking numbers of 3.3 assists to 1.7 turnovers.

But he’s not just impacting the team offensively.

Allen is showing that defenders don’t need the most incredible tools — like Mikal Bridges’ 7-foot-2 wingspan, for example — to be meaningful defenders. They just need obsessive effort and the smarts to anticipate while playing within a team scheme.

Out of the Suns’ seven best lineups in defensive rating with at least 20 minutes played together, Allen can be found in six of them, often taking on the hardest perimeter assignment.

The Suns are working their way through what could be considered their schedule’s most brutal month and just completed a stretch of nine games over 15 days dating back to Christmas. They went 5-4 in those games and now get to enjoy two off days between games in Los Angeles.

Sitting at 19-18, the season has definitely not gone as planned to this point, but I shudder to think what it might look like if Allen wasn’t included in that trade.

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