The 2023 NBA Playoffs could not have gone worse for Jarrett Allen. This season feels like it’s about him redeeming himself.
Name: Jarrett Allen
2022-23 stats: 68 games played, 32.6 minutes per game, 14.3 points per game, 9.8 rebounds per game, 1.7 assists per game, 64.4% field goal percentage
Allen has long been the unsung hero of the Cavaliers. He anchors the paint defensively and provides quality finishing on the other end. His two-way presence is vital to steering the ship for Cleveland even if Allen is often seen as the most expendable member of the core.
Jarrett Allen is key to Cleveland’s defense
The Cavaliers have come to rely on Allen’s size on both sides of the floor. He’s a top-notch rim protector and accepts the challenge of battling opposing big men so that Evan Mobley can play in help.
Allen’s interior work on defense covers Cleveland’s tracks. He routinely cleans up defensive breakdowns through his willingness to contest every shot in the paint. Allen defended the 7th most two-point attempts in the NBA last season, holding opponents 8.6% below their average within six feet.
With Max Strus joining the starting lineup, Allen’s job as the anchor will be more important than ever. He’ll likely have to cover for more dribble penetration with Strus on the floor rather than Isaac Okoro, who is an elite point-of-attack defender.
Contrary to his underwhelming playoff series, Allen is a quality rebounder. Cleaning the glass will be a point of emphasis for Allen all year long as he looks to redeem his name. That goes for every returning member of the Cavs.
In short, Allen has proven capable of holding down the fort for the league’s No. 1 defense. Yet, he’ll have to prove himself all over again — and sustain his production during the postseason to get back in good graces with the fans.
Allen should look more comfortable on offense
Getting multiple star-caliber players on the same team is tough. Finding a way to make them fit is the next step. For Cleveland, this part of the process has been their most recent roadblock.
With Mobley, Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland complimenting each other quite well — Allen is beginning to stick out like a sore thumb. Particularly on offense, where his limited range has put a strain on Cleveland’s half-court viability. It’s not easy to generate quality shots with two (sometimes three) non-shooters on the floor.
That’s why the offseason additions of Max Strus and Georges Niang could benefit Allen more than anybody. Strus is a major upgrade to the starting five and Niang will stagger Allen and Mobley’s minutes with a legit stretch-four.
Going back to basics will be key for Allen. He’s a strong screensetter and a phenomenal finisher in the paint. Cleveland’s added spacing will put Allen in a better position to play to his strengths on offense.
This season, the Cavs should see the best version of Allen, whatever that might be.