Entering his sophomore season, center Jarrett Allen is on track to make the jump to starting talent, and join the top big men in the East.
Entering the 2018-2019 season, Allen is on track to become more than a lengthy body down low, and secure his place as starting big man of the Nets.
After averaging 8.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game last season, Allen is looking more and more like another exciting building block in Brooklyn’s rebuild.
His rookie campaign was faced with inconsistency. Multiple starting players sat out long stretches to injury, throwing off an already abstract offense.
It’s not easy to walk into a rebuilding team like the Nets in your rookie season and truly make an impact. Yet that’s exactly what Jarrett Allen did.
He missed just 10 games and only one in the back half of the season. Allen played with high energy, a near requirement for a rookie big man with little weight to back up his frame.
After starting out timidly and stiff within the post, Allen took over in the final 41 games of the season. And the league was put on notice in a February game against the Bulls.
That notice came in the form of a monstrous dunk, over Chicago’s then-rookie Lauri Markkanen. It was Feb 26, and Brooklyn was amidst an eight-game losing streak.
So naturally, Allen gave fans something to be excited about.
While simultaneously alerting the league of what his future has to offer:
THIS JUST IN: JARRETT ALLEN HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH THE MURDER OF LAURI MARKKANEN. pic.twitter.com/IO9eE9uaD0
— DRK Sports (@drksportsnews) February 27, 2018
The Nets would go on to win 104-87, behind a strong performance from the rookie center. Allen tallied 18 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks in 23 minutes.
This year, Brooklyn is going to need more than the occasional poster, despite the entertainment value they hold on Twitter.
In order to become that player, Allen’s working on stepping up as a leader in the locker room.
That started with the Nets’ summer league. From his interview with Greg Logan of Newsday:
“I’m trying to be a leader and teach the first-year people how to be a pro,” he said earlier. “I’m trying to be able to come out of my comfort zone. This is like the perfect place to practice to be a leader so I’m able to bring that skill back to the Brooklyn Nets.”
He certainly seems motivated off the court, leaving growth on the court as the only question mark entering next year.
But the scene couldn’t be more scripted.
The Nets will have a point guard and offensive focal point D’Angelo Russell running the ball full-time, and Allen gets to learn from two veteran mentors in Kenneth Faried and Ed Davis.
Russell and Allen’s pick-and-roll potential will be a key component in a potentially dangerous and fast-paced offense.
Allen had to play with multiple point guards last season, and will likely benefit from some consistency. The pair’s chemistry will play a major role in his development as an individual talent.
Yet the most exciting facet of his game is his length and shot blocking ability.
Allen blocked four or more shots on five different occasions last year, including a career-high five blocks against the Milwaukee Bucks. He finished as the rookie leader in total blocks, at 88 on the season.
Allen averaged 1.4 blocks on the year, but the numbers suggest he’ll accomplish more with an increase in minutes. (His per 36 average last season was 2.2 per Basketball-Reference).
And while we’re in the dog days of August, there’s no doubt “The Fro” is somewhere right now, working on his game.
In an interview with Leo Sepkowitz of Bleacher Report, Dinwiddie quoted Allen as dedicated to being the best center in the NBA:
“His passion for the game is underrated. And just because he likes tech things and video games and has passions outside basketball, that doesn’t mean he’s any less dedicated to being the best center in the league, which I believe he’s capable of being.”
The foundation has been laid. Allen can, following his current trajectory, undoubtedly breach the NBA’s top tier of big men.
And for the Brooklyn Nets to reach the postseason next year, they’ll need him to. Head coach Kenny Atkinson will need to fully unleash Allen, and hope his impact on court skyrockets.