Milwaukee Bucks: Grayson Allen can be next season’s “Bobby Portis”

Apr 17, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 17, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks had no idea how crucial Bobby Portis would prove to be when they signed him during the 2020 NBA offseason.

Sacrificing a bigger payday from several teams for a chance to compete at the highest level with the Bucks, Portis understood the assignment coming in. The big man consistently played with an intense motor that comes from his “underdog mentality,” which would immediately help him carve out a role for himself in the rotation. He would cement his status as a fan favorite during the title run with several standout performances, particularly in the Eastern Conference Finals, where he started two games in place of an injured Giannis Antetokounmpo.

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Looking at their revamped roster for the upcoming 2021-22 season, it seems clear that Grayson Allen is the player that could come in and be the player that surprises the world with the Bucks.

The Bucks acquired Allen in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies this offseason, and the deal has intrigued fans everywhere. Many believe the guard could be poised for a breakout year with this new change of scenery, and they have a point.

Grayson Allen could be a breakout candidate during his first year with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021-22

To be clear, what Portis did in his first year with the Bucks was not what a breakout is typically defined as. The big man did not transcend to superstar status or average the flashiest numbers, but he made Portis a household name throughout Milwaukee and the rest of the NBA by playing his role to perfection. He was the team’s energizer off the bench, assigned to bring some intensity to the floor while hauling in rebounds and shooting the lights out from behind the arc. It made him a seamless fit with this team, and while Allen is a different player entirely, he could find similar success with the defending champs if he can play his individual role.

Allen might already have the name recognition part handled, but that is mostly because he is among the most controversial figures in college basketball history. He has distanced himself to some degree from his reputation as a dirty player for the most part, although there have been a few exceptions here and there. As he joins a team competing at the forefront of title contention, this will be his chance to make a name for himself for something other than his checkered past.

To do so, he will have to play his role to perfection. The first big question mark is whether or not Allen will begin his tenure with the Bucks in the starting five. There has been an infinite amount of speculation regarding the decision since the move was made, especially considering last year’s starter, Donte DiVincenzo, underwent season-ending surgery during last year’s postseason. If he does find himself in the starting lineup, his workload will obviously increase, but wherever Allen ends up, what he brings to the table fits with this team.

Like Portis, Allen brings more intensity into the mix by always making the hustle plays. He will dive on loose balls, play some serviceable defense, and be an agitator at times. Considering he will not average the gaudiest numbers in all likelihood, one goal that Allen should shoot for during his first year in Milwaukee should be to dominate the NBA’s hustle stats. Loose balls recovered, shots contested, charges drawn, and several other things that many players would consider “dirty work” are tailor-made for Allen. He brings an edge with him, and his knack for doing the little things will help him fit in immediately.

Allen’s 3-point shot should also help him get accustomed to the way the Bucks like to operate. Over his three years in the league, the guard has steadily seen an increased number of attempts from the perimeter with each passing season, most recently heaving 5.5 per game in 2020-21. Considering how much the Bucks emphasize shooting the long ball, Allen’s average should only increase with Milwaukee this season. Making good on those shots will help him fit right in playing under head coach Mike Budenholzer.

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If he can do all of this, Allen could have a breakout year similar to what Portis saw during his first year with the Bucks.