With the dust beginning to settle on one of the biggest trades of the offseason, we can begin to take stock of where the Phoenix Suns stand after finally trading Deandre Ayton. Like him or not, a return centered around fellow big man Jusuf Nurkic does not seem like a lot.
Yet fans of teams often overvalue their own guys, and think less of everybody else. The reality with Ayton is that he was not worth as much as some thought — and yet getting a 29-year-old big who has had injury problems in Nurkic does still feel like selling too low on Ayton.
The Suns also got three other players in this three-team deal, and without doubt Grayson Allen is the player who is going to stick and succeed with this group.
The former Milwaukee Bucks player does not have a great reputation around the league and is seen as dirty, and that’s actually a great place to start here. The thing about individuals like that is that it is easy when you’re an opposing fan to unite and boo against them.
When on your team though, they can be invaluable. That is not to condone the previous behaviour of Allen, who once absolutely took Alex Caruso out which caused him to miss months of action, but players with some bite are needed if you want to go into deep waters.
It would be a stretch to call Allen an enforcer for Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, that is Nurkic’s job when he is healthy, but there will be dogfights the Suns find themselves in this season, and they will be glad they have Allen then.
He comes across from a Bucks organizaton that was a contender every season he was there, and so he knows what it feels like to play in high stakes games all of the time. Allen started all but seven of the 138 regular season games he played for the Bucks, and he has 25 postseason appearances under his belt as well.
Allen is not going to be the fifth starter for the Suns, but his abilities make a role easy to define for him. As a near 40 percent career 3-point shooter, Allen is going to come off the bench and hopefully score in bunches. Like a younger version of what they hoped Terrence Ross was going to be last season.
Allen can also slide into the starting five when necessary, but really he will be playing 20/25 minutes per game off the bench, and could even see himself nail down the sixth man role. The Suns had a great summer, and did a fantastic job of consolidating their bench around their star players.
Eric Gordon and Yuta Watanabe are known commodities, while Keita Bates-Diop, Chimezie Metu, Bol Bol and Drew Eubanks still have something to prove in the league. Allen certainly fits into the former category, and right away provides more depth for the Suns, and more competition for the other guys.
The franchise are now going to have to let some players go, especially given Keon Johnson and Nasir Little also came over in the Ayton trade. But it is Allen who will be good to go from minute one, and is sure to feature on opening night.
Even on the defensive end, he is a tough below average but is tenacious if nothing else. The ability to surround Durant and Booker with shooters such as Allen, Gordon and Watanabe is a frightening prospect for the rest of the league as well. Even more so as Gordon and Watanabe are plus defenders more often than not.
It is hard to think in this moment that the Suns got better in moving Ayton for Nurkic, but Allen is going to succeed in his role with the organization. That alone is not enough to make them favorites in the Western Conference, but this is still a roster featuring Booker, Durant and Bradley Beal. An enviable starting point.
Grayson Allen is going to spread the floor and knock down some important shots this coming season, but don’t be surprised when he ends up doing a lot more than that. It was always show up on the box score – and opposing fans won’t like some of the methods – but you’ve got to dabble in the dark side if you want to win big. Allen gives the Suns the ability to do just that.