Brooklyn Nets: Jarrett Allen rim protection more than blocks

Brooklyn Nets Jarrett Allen. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Jarrett Allen. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets have an elite rim protector in Jarrett Allen and his impact on the game goes far beyond just the number of shots he blocks.

Jarrett Allen of the Brooklyn Nets would get high marks from a player who was perhaps the NBA’s most feared rim protector, even as he played in an era before blocked shots were officially counted.

Bill Russell, the 11-time NBA champion and five-time NBA Most Valuable Player — as well as the guy for whom the NBA Finals MVP award is now named — was noted for his ability not just to block shots, but direct them to teammates to start transition opportunities.

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Allen has a certain amount of that in his rim protection arsenal, with most of the blocks he gets being recovered by the Nets — essentially turning that blocked shot into a turnover.

Per, 59 of Allen’s 94 blocks this season have been recovered by the Nets, a 62.77 percent clip.

Allen is currently 12th in the NBA, averaging 1.6 blocks per game, but his block recovery rate is among the best in the NBA.

Among the top 20 in the league in blocks per game this season, Allen ranks seventh in recovery rate. Here are the top 20 in blocks per game in order of recovery rate. Their rank in blocks per game is in parentheses.

  1. Javale McGee, Los Angeles Lakers (7): 70.59%
  2. Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers (1): 67.59%
  3. Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat (5): 67.27%
  4. Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks (6): 64.52%
  5. Jerami Grant, Oklahoma City Thunder (19): 64.10%
  6. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz (3): 62.99%
  7. Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets (12): 62.77%
  8. Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks (4): 61.96%
  9. Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz (18): 61.25%
  10. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (15): 60.00%
  11. Al Horford, Boston Celtics (14): 59.46%
  12. Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons (11): 59.38%
  13. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans (2): 59.13%
  14. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves (10): 58.42%
  15. Montrezl Harrell, LA Clippers (17): 56.63%
  16. Clint Capela, Houston Rockets (9): 55.70%
  17. Jusuf Nurkic, Portland Trail Blazers (13): 53.41%
  18. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers (8): 53.33%
  19. Mohamed Bamba, Orlando Magic (20): 53.13%
  20. Jaren Jackson, Memphis Grizzlies (16): 45.12%

What does the difference in that statistic mean? Here’s some context:

  • Of Allen’s 94 blocked shots, 59 have been turned immediately into Brooklyn possessions.
  • Of Davis’ 115 blocks for the Pelicans, 68 have been turned into possessions.
  • Of Embiid’s 105 blocks, 56 have become Philadelphia possessions.

So a net of 21 more blocks by Davis has only led to nine more New Orleans possessions than what the Nets have yielded off Allen’s blocks.

The difference becomes more stark when comparing Embiid and Allen. The Philadelphia All-Star has 11 more blocked shots, but the Nets have a plus-3 advantage in possessions gained off blocks when comparing Allen to Embiid.

How big a deal is three possessions in the grand scheme of things?

Per 100 possessions, Embiid’s blocks give the 76ers an extra 1.46 possessions. Per 100 possessions, Allen’s blocks give Brooklyn an extra 1.78 possessions.

Given Brooklyn’s current pace of 100.89 possessions per game, it’s 1.76 possessions per game. Given the 76ers’ pace of 102.62, Embiid provides 1.42 possessions per game.

At the NBA level, small numbers can mean a lot in the end result. Over the course of an 82-game season, Allen’s advantage yields almost 28 more extra possessions for the Nets over the 76ers.

That’s 28 more opportunities to put points on the board. It’s 28 fewer opportunities for the opponents to do the same.

In a tight playoff race, that is a significant swing because in the NBA, even the smallest of advantages matter.

Ultimately, the NBA is a make-or-miss league. but if you can provide your opponents with fewer opportunities to make shots while at the same time creating more chances for your team to do so, that impacts games, which impacts playoff positioning.

There isn’t a lot separating the teams that find themselves clustered together in the Eastern Conference playoff race, which has essentially become three groups:

  • Milwaukee and Toronto within 1½ games of each other in the top two slots.
  • Indiana, Philadelphia and Boston within three games of each other between third and fifth place.
  • Brooklyn, Detroit, Charlotte, Orlando and Miami within 3½ games of each other for the sixth through eighth spots, with two of those teams destined to fall short of reaching the postseason.

Of those teams, the Raptors, Hornets and Magic (with Bamba sidelined indefinitely with a stress fracture in his left tibia) don’t have a top-20 shot blocker. That leaves their defenses having to impact the possession count by other means.

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The last three spots in the East will come down to small factors leading to big advantages. Jarrett Allen’s ability to keep blocked shots in play to create transition chances for the Brooklyn Nets is one of those factors that will matter before it’s all over.