Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum occupied the rookie spotlight this season. Behind them were the likes of Kyle Kuzma and Lauri Markkanen, young players who compiled terrific seasons on bad teams. Josh Jackson and Dennis Smith Jr. were a couple of guys who stood out during the latter half of the year, and Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (and his afro) is in that same tier.
Allen was the 22nd pick in the 2017 draft and slipped that far because of his rawness on both ends of the floor. Whoever drafted him needed the proper personnel to harvest his potential. After one season, the Nets’ staff has done a fantastic job. Allen’s physical attributes are awesome, allowing him to develop into the ideal new-school center. He’s a constant threat above the rim because he’s long and athletic, and those same attributes make him a stalwart rim protector. Allen’s season, however, featured a stark contrast.
Before the All-Star break, Allen was tentative, like a child getting into the pool for the first time without a floatie. His passiveness on offense was maddening. But things were vastly different on the defensive end, which helped level everything out. Allen recorded four blocks in 15 minutes against the Atlanta Hawks on October 22, just his second game as a professional. Those moments were few and far between as Kenny Atkinson sought ways to ease his rookie center into the lineup without shocking him. The consistency didn’t arrive until late January.
A 14-game stretch from January 23 to February 26 had some of Jarrett Allen’s best showings. He scored a career-high 20 points on February 2, and that came on the heels of a 16-point, 12-rebound performance the game before. About a week later, Allen erupted for 13 points, 14 rebounds and six assists against the Detroit Pistons, marking his best all-around performance of the season.
Those games were beyond entertaining because Allen looked confident. He’d catch the ball around the basket, pivot a few times and go up strong. That patience and aggressiveness weren’t present at the start of the campaign. And there’s a strong chance that his disrespectful posterization of Markkanen wouldn’t have happened in November or December.
Jarrett Allen Is For The Children
While Allen’s new to the rigors of the NBA, he took a quick interest in giving back to the community, particularly kids. The now 20-year-old is still a kid himself, but that hasn’t stopped him from appearing all over New York City. In September, Allen made an appearance at Levels Barbershop in Brooklyn while sporting the early stages of a now legendary afro. On behalf of the Brooklyn Nets, he paid for nearly 50 haircuts and handed out school supplies to kids of various ages. The deeds didn’t stop there.
Thanksgiving-time featured another Allen appearance, this time at a supermarket in Jackson Heights, a neighborhood in Queens. Allen, who admittedly doesn’t have much experience preparing dinner, gave $70 to 25 kids so they could shop for Thanksgiving while also learning how to manage a budget.
More recently, Allen teamed up with a few kids from 4-H for an engineering challenge: the group worked to build wearable fitness monitors from scratch which recorded steps, heart rate and temperature.