Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen had a rare moment in the team’s road win over the Atlanta Hawks — he got mad, demonstratively so. Then he had a big game.
Jarrett Allen has had a very solid second NBA season for the Brooklyn Nets. The big Texan with the bigger hair has made big strides as a rebounder, understand the subtleties of rim protection more each game it seems and is very good — particularly for a 20-year-old — of staying within himself.
He can also appear to be having a very good time on the floor, playing with a joy that belies a player whose draft stock faded because he had the unmitigated gall to be open about having other interests outside of basketball.
But don’t mistake that enjoyment of the game for a lack of intensity.
On Saturday night against the Atlanta Hawks, we saw something from Allen that we haven’t seen a lot of over his two seasons with the Nets.
He got angry.
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Allen was called for eight technical fouls as a rookie, but had just two this season entering the game at State Farm Arena on Saturday.
Prince gave Allen a couple of fullback lead-block moves to the chest. Allen gave him a shove. Prince was called for the personal foul, while Allen received the T.
Allen was a different player from that point. He finished the night with 20 points and 12 rebounds — including a career-high matching seven boards on the offensive glass, matching his total from March 1, 2018, against the Sacramento Kings.
He was also very aggressive taking the ball to the rim. He set new career-highs with 10 made free throws on 16 attempts from the line and finished with those 20 points on just six shot attempts, making 5-of-6.
Allen has played in all but two games for Brooklyn this season, missing a pair of games in mid-November with an illness, and has already surpassed his rookie totals in every category.
He’s averaging 11.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 26.7 minutes per game, has doubled his assists from 0.7 to 1.5 a night and is shooting a very shot 58.7 percent overall.
His free throw percentage has fallen from 77.6 to 70.7 this season as he’s gone through some rough periods there.
Allen is not the prototypical back-to-the-basket center. In 66 games, he has just 18 post-ups. Allen is, however, the absolute prototype for the modern pace-and-space center.
He is fifth in the NBA, averaging 4.7 screen assists per game, and has become a terrific roll man off the pick-and-roll, working well with both D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie in running to the rack and receiving lobs.
As a rim protector, he may only be 12th in the NBA, averaging 1.5 blocks, but he is third in the NBA with 15.8 contested shots per game at the defensive end.
Allen has a good looking shooting stroke, but has struggled to find the range from 3-point territory this season, hitting just 6-of-42 attempts (14.3 percent). That is something that will come in time.
He is ninth in the NBA with his 58.7 field goal percentage and 10th with a 4.5 blocked shot percentage. He has 142 dunks and is shooting 73.1 percent in the restricted area (where he takes 66.3 percent of his shots) — exactly the type of efficiency a team hopes to get from its big man.
And the biggest factor to bear in mind is that the kid will complete his second full NBA season on April 10, 11 days before he turns 21 years old.
The future is very bright for Jarrett Allen and if he decides to play with a bit of an angry edge from time to time, so much the better it seems.