After recently being relegated to a bench role, should fans of the Brooklyn Nets have any concern about Jarrett Allen’s development or potential lack thereof?
You can’t gauge Jarrett Allen’s worth on the floor through traditional splits, that just isn’t a proper tool for calibration. He does the little things well that don’t show up on the boxscore; analytically speaking, he’s one of the NBA’s finest big men at his age.
However, he still has glaring holes in his development. It’s not exactly far-fetched to say that such inadequacies likely played a roll in his recent demotion to the bench. Should fans of the Brooklyn Nets be at all concerned?
Firstly, we need context: this isn’t the first time Allen has been benched in favor of Jordan this season. But up until a contest slated for March 8 against the Chicago Bulls, he had started in all of four of his 62 games played.
However, despite all the advanced metrics/analytics stating that he’s made subtle, unsexy improvements this season curtailing to a certain demographic of fans that care about terms which appear as if they belong in a third-year university math textbook, he’s still fighting to fend off the much older Jordan for a spot on the floor once opening tip-off ensues.
At this point in his career, Allen’s strengths on the floor are easily visible. It’s just that his weaknesses are as well.
He’s one of the best roll men in the NBA off of pick-and-rolls; I mean, after all, he’s averaging 1.34 points per possession in such instances (first in the league amongst players with at least 2.5 possessions a game). But then you could also say he’s still lacking the ability to finish through contact/traffic and often doesn’t know where the rim is at when he catches the ball down low.
When debating Allen’s game, the age-old basketball debate of eye-test vs new age analytics immediately comes to mind.
He might work well within a motion-spread offense with his deliberate screen assists and dribble handoffs to free up teammates, but his inability to fade off a pick-and-roll, shoot wide-open threes (which is really weird, 33.3 percent as a rookie), or have a go-to move in the block besides an incredibly inefficient baby hook are all concerning—and I love the guy.
Defensively, he’s rather sound. Every now and then you’ll see a more physical player nudge him off his spot with relative ease, but to complain about his effectiveness on the defensive end would be to nitpick with a hint of confirmation bias.
He’s sixth in the NBA in contested shots (14.4 per game), eighth in ESPN’s defensive real plus/minus, 15th in block percentage (4.3 percent), and 19th in defensive win shares. Those such metrics are not perfect, by any means, but you can’t just simply glance over Allen’s contributions to an eighth-ranked Nets defense.
There’s also a legitimate argument to be made that he won’t need to have a deep bag alongside a roster that boasts the level of talent the Nets will have next season to be successful. Though that still doesn’t fully excuse an offensive repertoire that consists exclusively of open dunks/layups and your occasional contested hook.
Because, yeah, there should be cautious optimism when discussing what Allen might look like in a playoff series. We’re asking him to grow up quickly, to reach the level he’s projected to be at in his prime years, out of necessity. Heading into next year, it’s time to contend.
This summer has serious ramifications; it’s still unknown if Allen will be donning the black-and-white in front of Barclays faithful next season. But if he is, you want to see improvements that extend beyond what analytics paint him as.
He’s still going to be an effective, complementary player without the presence of a well-rounded offense. It’s just that there are certain aspects in which he needs to develop further, and the excuse that Kenny Atkinson is hindering his development due to his own philosophies is now null and void.
Overall, there is no need for panic surrounding “The Fro,” but at the same time, you’d want to see him develop his game beyond the confines of an analytically-inclined big.