Phoenix Suns guard Grayson Allen is changing the narrative when it comes to his name. His all-out hustle was established in his previous stops with the Utah Jazz, Memphis Grizzlies, and the Milwaukee Bucks. With Phoenix, he has taken on a major role to begin the season, and his play has been lights out. It is not just the effortless shooting from behind the three-point line at 46% (currently a career high), he has proved himself to be a calm leader on and off the floor.
Allen carries himself as the once Phoenix guard Ricky Rubio used to say “never too high, never too low.” This is the demeanor we all need here in Phoenix when things were looking back a couple of weeks ago after Woj released that Kevin Durant was “frustrated”. You can feel the ease that Allen has on the court, which is the opposite of his play. He is a rapid defender that can push the pace on the offensive end, and quickly pick up on what the opposing defense is giving him.
After starting all 30 games that he has played in a Suns uniform, and proving that he is more than a three-point shooter, does Allen have a chance to win the NBA’s Most Improved Award this year? With the way Tyrese Maxey is showing out with the Philadelphia 76ers, it makes sense to award him the trophy this early in the season. Allen might be a long shot, but here is the case to give him a second look.
We have to start with the fact Allen is averaging career highs all over the board.
- 33.2 MIN
- 13 PTS
- 4.3 REB
- 2.8 AST
- 50.4 FG%
- 45.7 3P%
- 1.0 STL
- 0.6 BLK
Shown below, you can see that there is no sign of Allen when it comes to the official odds for the most improved. According to Sportsbookreview.com, as of 1/5/2023.
The only way for him to make an appearance is for the Suns to become a legitimate contender again. Of course, there is the argument that Allen is playing alongside Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, and Kevin Durant, but we all know that is not the case. Due to injuries, the Big Three have had a hard time remaining intact.
Keeping his composure through all the injuries and off-the-court nonsense leaked by Woj, for a competitive player like Allen who just wants to win, you can see his maturity.
Sitting 5th on the roster with 52.6 touches per game, behind Devin Booker (79.7), Kevin Durant (73.8), Jusuf Nurkic (58.6), Bradley Beal (53.7), is exactly where Allen belongs... for now.
The trust that Frank Vogel and the Suns staff have in Allen controlling the offense will also continue to progress. We have seen plenty from Allen when it comes to the blazing-hot three-point games. Hitting 8-of-13 vs the Chicago Bulls on November 8th, and 8-of-17 against the Dallas Mavericks on Christmas.
Heading into the Half against the Miami Heat on Friday night, Allen already had seven makes from behind the arc, scoring 23 points (career high in the first half). Ending the game with a franchise-tying record nine made threes shows the freedom he has, and that freedom to release from anywhere on the floor contributes to his ball-handling and setting up teammates to succeed.
I worried a lot about the staggered minutes between Beal, Booker, and Durant, and who would pick up the slack when two of the three stars were off the floor. I know now that Allen is the next one up when it comes to trusting someone else with the ball.
The fact that Allen has remained in the starting line-up next to Booker, Beal, KD, and Nurkic when the Suns are struggling with size and boxing out, proves there is more coming. There is more to the vision that Vogel has for Allen. Allen does bring more power than his measurements are, along with the IQ to help out on the boards. He has proved himself as a starter with his previous teams, but the infectious attitude he brings to the Suns is something they have missed since the departure of Jae Crowder.
The only thing left to prove is if Allen can stay consistent, and when the day comes, can he stay in the starting lineup, providing the same stellar play?