Since joining the Brooklyn Nets’ starting lineup, Jarrett Allen has put together impressive performances, but the Nets have been just 3-14. In this piece, I’ll go deeper and break down Allen’s body of work since becoming a starter.
On January 30th, the Brooklyn Nets lost an uninspiring contest to the New York Knicks, 111-95. The loss ensured the Nets would be swept in their season series with their cross-town rival. While disappointing, the game marked rookie center Jarrett Allen’s first career start.
Prior to joining the starters, Allen averaged just 6.5 points and 4.6 rebounds, per NBA.com. He often struggled to get into a groove, seeing the court around 17 minutes per contest. Head Coach Kenny Atkinson said that Allen would have to earn his role, and it seems as though Atkinson’s faith in starting him has been justified.
From his first game entering the starting lineup through February, Allen showcased his abilities. He upped his averages, scoring 13.1 points and seven rebounds per game while shooting 65.8% from the field. With over 23 minutes per game, Allen had a better chance of getting into the flow of the game. His play alongside the starting units, while closing out games gave him more, and better, opportunities. Allen capped off his month with a monster dunk on Lauri Markkanen:
Where Allen Has Succeeded
In the dunk against Markkanen , Allen did what he does best: operate as a pick-and-roll man. Allen has developed a great rapport with Spencer Dinwiddie in February. Allen is often on the receiving end of Dinwiddie assists near the basket. Entering the league, this was clearly Allen’s strength, and it has translated well early in his NBA career.
On the season, Allen has been one of the most efficient pick-and-roll men in the NBA. His 1.16 points per possession as a pick-and-roll man rank 21st in the NBA. It puts him ahead of guys like Karl-Anthony Towns, Myles Turner, and Anthony Davis.
He shoots nearly 60% on such plays, and gets fouled on over 15.2% of such plays, good for 16th most frequently in the NBA. An area of weakness in college (he shot just 56% on free throws in his lone year at Texas), his free throw shooting has been an asset in the NBA. On the season, he’s hit 78% of his free throws, and in February, he shot 82% form the stripe.
Allen has great hands, and uses his ridiculous wingspan (nearly 7’6) to ensure defenders have no chance of rejecting his shot. Against the Knicks, Allen demonstrated what makes him difficult to stop:
In addition to his rim-running abilities, Allen has improved his post presence. While he rarely posts defenders up, the clip below shows impressive patience and ability to score near the rim.
While the Brooklyn Nets have struggled since Allen’s ascension, this should hardly fall on the 19-year old. Allen has the best net rating of any Nets player during the past 17 games at -0.5. The team has been porous defensively with Allen in (112.1 defensive rating), but their offense has thrived (111.6 offensive rating). That number would rank third in the NBA behind just the Warriors and Rockets.
What to Expect Going Forward
Allen impressed out of the gates, with his first five starts netting double-digit scoring outputs. Since then, he’s cooled off. In March, Allen has struggled, with modest averages of 9.4 points and 6.2 rebounds. His minutes have declined, as have his shots, both from the field and from the free throw line.
While it may be cause for concern, those games include a bout against the Warriors, and matchups with DeAndre Jordan and Joel Embiid. In those three games, he averaged just 6.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 17.7 minutes per games. Against elite competition, especially big, physical centers like Embiid and Jordan, Allen is overmatched. While he has the size, both centers have 20-plus pounds on him.
Even if his numbers continue to decline, Allen is ahead of schedule. His ascension into the starting lineup was prolonged, but Kenny Atkinson clearly had a plan for him. He’s been a remarkably efficient player thus far in his career, playing almost exclusively to his strengths. That’s not likely to change this season.
The season has undoubtedly been difficult for the Brooklyn Nets. With no incentive to tank, they continue to find themselves at the bottom of the standings. It’s difficult to find silver linings on the team, but the Nets may have their center of the future in Jarrett Allen. It won’t happen overnight, but Allen has shown that he has the tools to succeed in the NBA.