Jarrett Allen is a confusing player to watch. His defensive highlights sit among the best in the league, and against most teams his presence in the paint is very clearly felt. It is when he is up against top talents that we see there is more to be desired from him.
The clearest example of this is the consistent mismatch against Joel Embiid. This is a concern because the Nets are in the East and for as long as Jarrett Allen is the cornerstone center for the Nets he will have to contend with players such as Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Another reason for the apparent mismatch is that Jarrett Allen does not make Joel Embiid work on the defensive end.
The Nets have to consistently use the pick and roll and force switches to try to bring Embiid out to the three point line against a guard. This can work but Jarrett Allen should ideally be able to accomplish one of these tasks. Either make him work on the offensive end, or make him work on the defensive end. This is important because the Nets are now facing championship aspirations in the coming year(s) so these match ups become the most important.
This begs the question: Has Jarrett Allen been underutilized?
A big reason why Jarrett Allen is confusing to watch is because on occasion he will show finesse and skill offensively that will then disappear as he goes back to his designed role. We’ve seen him take a defender from top of the key handling the rock straight for a drive lay up or dunk. We’ve also seen him spin off Joel Embiid in the paint for a hook shot. These things don’t happen often but when they do you’re left wondering “If he can do that, why doesn’t the coaching staff try to let him shine more?”
Right now the Nets have been trying to get Jarrett Allen out on the perimeter for corner threes to try to stretch the floor, but why not refine the abilities he has now in the paint and move him outward with time? This way in these match ups he’s not a liability in the paint offensively.
The biggest benefit the Nets would receive from this approach is that it would take pressure off the guards to have to make plays for him. As well as providing opportunities for mismatches in the paint for easy buckets. This is not currently something the Nets have access to. Not too mention the biggest benefactor of this is coming next season; Kevin Durant.
Durant would have free movement wherever he wanted if opposing teams had to worry about switching a bigger player onto him because that would leave Allen with an easy bucket in the paint.
The Nets should consider their experiment to make Jarrett Allen a defensive stalwart is finished. Jarrett Allen is already great defensively, and the issues he still faces defensively will all be solved with size. As the young big continues to get stronger he’ll continue to be a force at the rim defensively, as well as offensively. It would behoove the Nets to see how far they can develop Jarrett Allen’s skillset offensively to take this team to another level.
In this day and age finding bigs who are good offensively and defensively is becoming harder and harder. Jarrett Allen is athletic, smart, and reliable. It would be a shame if we never got to see Jarrett Allen’s full potential as a player as a Net.