With the playoffs looming, the Brooklyn Nets need to see an even more aggressive Jarrett Allen.
Brooklyn is 30-29 with just 23 games to play and seemingly locked in for the Eastern Conference playoffs. They’ve got a two-game grip on the sixth seed, ahead of the Charlotte Hornets, and a two-and-a-half game lead on the eighth-seeded Detroit Pistons.
Here is a look at Brooklyn’s sophomore big man and just where he needs to improve ahead of the postseason.
If the playoffs began today, Brooklyn would be set to face off against the third seed, the Indiana Pacers. While it seems like a blessing to face a team missing their star player, it may prove to be a curse.
Should the Nets slide down to the eighth seed, they’ll face the Milwaukee Bucks. Former Brooklyn stud Brook Lopez is the starting big man, and Giannis Antetokounmpo will undoubtedly have to be guarded by Allen.
That’s a lot of responsibility for a 20-year old just finding his legs, but the Brooklyn front office has an overly apparent trust in Allen, at least for this season. What leads you to believe this is the fact that there were no moves made at the trade deadline to acquire a true power forward. Which really is telling.
All the same, the Eastern Conference is filled to the brim with big man talent. All of whom will have to face Jarrett Allen on the glass. And vice versa for the Nets big man.
Jarrett Allen has been monstrous on the shot blocking end.
He’s tallied a list of star talent who’ve all fallen to him at the rim: James Harden, Anthony Davis, and LeBron James to name a few. It’s been a welcome sight to Nets fans, watching the team’s big man grow into a formidable force on the glass.
But still, something’s missing.
There is a part of Allen’s game that’s seemingly still not present at all times. Games, where he’s just as strong a force on offense, have been few and far in between. And ahead of the playoffs, Brooklyn will need the gap between them to shrink to nonexistence. The playoff picture Eastern Conference features at least one-star big man on every team.
Allen’s recorded just two games this season with 20+ points. One a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, and the other this 20 point outing against the Houston Rockets.
Brooklyn was running over Houston in the pick-and-roll that night, which could likely be credited to Clint Capela’s absence.
Still, this version of Allen; mobile, utilizing his length, and constantly looking for the open lane is what Brooklyn needs every night. Not strictly the fundamentals version we’ve seen far too much recently.
The 20-year old is averaging just 9.5 points over Brooklyn’s last 10 games to go with 7.6 rebounds. Both below his season averages of 11.2 and 8.6 respectively.
Brooklyn has gone just 4-6 in that span.
Allen often falls back to the basics of playing the five, which often clashes with coach Kenny Atkinson’s offense, and even more with the positionless mantra of today’s NBA.
He’s got to be active, on both ends of the basketball. His rebounding is impeccable, his shot blocking is menacing, but his offense still has room to grow.
There’s no arguing Allen belongs in the Eastern Conference big man conversation. His being selected to the Rising Stars Game at All-Star weekend is evidence of that. But all of the Nets potential matchups have big men who top him in that conversation. Marc Gasol in Toronto, Al Horford in Boston, Myles Turner in Indiana, and Joel Embiid in Philadelphia.
When put head-to-head with the other names previously mentioned, it’s that performance which will prove his placement.
While Allen is often known for his reliability on shot defense, he’ll need to gain credibility as a player who can score.
For all of those reasons, his performance may prove the difference between a four-game sweep and a six-game series. Finding a groove offensively while maintaining his already prominent shot-blocking ability will prove to be key.