3. Allen still making huge strides
The image above shows one of the two glaring mistakes Jarrett Allen made Tuesday night. When he had an open lane to the basket, he chose to dribble once rather than go straight up.
That allowed Trevor Ariza time to recover and instead of a monster dunk, Allen was on the wrong end of a monster denial by Ariza.
The only other real misstep was in the first half, when he reached in and tried to take the ball from a guard, Devin Booker, in the open court.
Allen can be forgiven that one, because it’s a silly mistake many big men will make … because in their hearts, all big men are small guards and all small guards are big men. It’s just a fact of the game.
But otherwise, Allen was terrific. He defended well against big rookie Deandre Ayton most of the night, rebounded well — again — and made opposing penetrators think twice about making a move toward his rim.
And his work as a passer in the halfcourt is really coming along, as he dished a season-high five assists on Tuesday night.
The more Allen plays, the more comfortable he is making those inside-out reads to open shooters, as well as handling the ball and finding open cutters when he’s out on the floor.
He was rewarded for some hustle against the Suns as well. After defending an Ayton fadeaway jumper, Allen outsprinted everyone down the floor and took a pass from Allen Crabbe for a huge dunk in transition.
Ayton made the classic young big mistake of lingering over the missed shot for just a second too long. Allen recognized it and made the kid pay for not getting back hard on defense.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Allen was the guy getting burned in that scenario. But the kid is learning fast and his game has come lightyears forward this season.