Melissa Majchrzak

Allen impresses crowd, teammates in preseason debut

by Aaron Falk

On Friday night, Grayson Allen flailed and shimmied, clearly out of his comfort zone as the young Utah Jazz guard endured the team’s mandatory rookie dance-off. One night later, on the same hardwood court, Allen couldn’t have looked more at home.

“I was a lot more comfortable after that first 3 went down,” Allen said. “That felt good.”

Allen finished with a game-high 19 points to help lead the Jazz to a 130-72 victory over the Perth Wildcats in the team’s preseason opener. The first-round draft pick hit his first five shots of the game — four of them from beyond the arc — as the Jazz put together a wire-to-wire win at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

“He’s playing with confidence and it’s impressive,” said center Rudy Gobert, who had 14 points and nine rebounds.

Jazz head coach Quin Snyder liked what he saw from the rookie, especially when it came to shot selection.

“We want to find good shots. We want to look for opportunities to take those shots,” Snyder said. “I think his shots were good shots.”

Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists) has said that Allen had impressed during the team’s open gym sessions leading up to training camp. So last year’s rookie wasn’t at all surprised to see this year’s rookie go off on Saturday.

“I knew,” Mitchell said. “He’s a fantastic shooter. He really understands the game.”

Allen said he feels he has the green light to shoot, so long as he’s taking good shots. But for now, the rookie said he is more focused on fine-tuning other parts of his game: “I think more of what I’m focused on right now is the defensive stuff, footwork. I got caught up on a couple of screens, a few rotations I made weren’t correct. And then, offensively, I’m focused on not turning that ball over.”

Mitchell, meanwhile, has faith that Allen can contribute to the team this season.

“It’s all about having trust in your teammates,” Mitchell said. “Last year Rudy had a lot of faith in me. This year, it’s the same with Grayson.”

Allen finished the night 7-of-14 from the floor, including 5-of-9 from deep. But Mitchell was particularly impressed with Allen’s ability to work in a floater that they had practiced the morning of the game.

“For him to be able to do that so quickly is impressive,” Mitchell said. “There’s more coming.”