Brooklyn Nets: Jarrett Allen takes this rim protection thing seriously

Brooklyn Nets Jarrett Allen. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Jarrett Allen. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Center Jarrett Allen is the last line of defense for the Brooklyn Nets and Tuesday he added LeBron James to a growing list of signature blocked dunks.

Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen has fallen off his early pace as a shot blocker, currently 16th in the NBA at 1.5 blocks per game. But less than a minute into Tuesday night’s 115-110 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, Allen delivered the block heard ’round the NBA world.

The Lakers led 2-0 in the very early going and were about to make it a 4-0 lead. LeBron James gathered the ball near the 3-point line, spotted a lane to the rim and set his 6-foot-8, 275-pound frame into flight toward the rim.

According to Basketball Reference, James has 1,783 dunks over the course of his 15-plus NBA seasons and at age 34, he’s still good for one or two throwdowns a game.

What James did not expect was that 20-year-old Allen missed the memo that James is entitled to a free run at the Brooklyn rim.

And with that, the message had been delivered to the visiting Lakers — you are not coming into our house and pushing us around.

Allen made all sorts of top-play lists in the preseason and again on opening night when he challenged another of the NBA’s best dunkers, Blake Griffin of the Detroit Pistons, on dunk attempts.

He erased one in an Oct. 8 preseason game at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena.

On opening night 10 days later, same players, same building … same result.

That’s not to say Allen hasn’t been on the wrong end of some dunks. Most notably, Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans put him on a poster during their game on Oct. 26.

But in an era where players will often try to duck out of view when a guy makes a run to the rim in order to avoid being a poster child, Allen simply does not care.

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That fearlessness will serve him well over the course of what is on track to be a long, successful career.

He’s still very raw, something that is easy to forget when you see a guy erasing a LeBron dunk attempt.

His offensive game is evolving, with notable improvements this season with his footwork, his touch around the rim and his ability to read when and where to roll after setting a pick for one of the Nets’ guards.

Defensively, he blocks shots well and his rebounding has gotten better. He still lacks the strength to go toe-to-toe with some of the NBA’s best big men, though, and has been benched for long stretches while veteran Ed Davis gets the call to work against guys such as Joel Embiid.

Allen works hard at his craft and those improvements will come with time. Again, he’s 20 years old. His ceiling is still at a place way off in the distance, because while he’s bright and learns quickly, there are some things that will just require work and patience.

But Allen also provides us those glimpses of what he can be, such as when he challenges an all-time great rather than conceding a dunk.

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It’s that attitude combined with the talent that will ultimately take Jarrett Allen even further.