Jarrett Allen is emerging as an elite big man, averaging a double-double and looking like one of the game’s top young centers. He’s given the Nets everything they could have dreamed of when they drafted him.
Well, if we’re picking nits, everything except one thing. Tasked with shoring up his rebounding, he did. Charged with improving his consistency, he has. Now about those free throws …
“Allen’s ascension has really helped them. He’s really improved and become one of the better bigs around,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said.
“On the offensive boards, we haven’t seen this from Jarrett. He’s really starting to do it consistently, which is tough for young guys as you know,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson added. “When we drafted him, it was like the sky’s the limit for his talent. He’s a heck of an athlete. He stays healthy, which is a big thing. And he’s got a ton of [talent].
“We’ve got to get the free throws now. And he’s working on it. But he just keeps getting better. There are signs he could be really, really good.”
The signs are the 2017 second-round pick averaging 11.8 points and 10.3 boards, leading the league in field-goal percentage (68.3) and almost doubling his rookie rebounding mark of 5.4 per game. And he’s getting better by the week, boosting those numbers to 16 points and 12.5 rebounds over his past eight games.
“For sure I’ve seen an improvement in myself,” Allen said. “Being more confident in myself especially on the offensive rebounding, just knowing my strengths and weaknesses.”
That weakness is definitely free-throw shooting. The fact Allen is shooting 10 percent worse at the line than the field (58.3) is something he admits needs work.
And as he does in many things, Allen don’t need to look further than his backup, DeAndre Jordan, for inspiration.
Jordan was an infamously poor free-throw shooter, making just 38.5 percent as a rookie and just 48.2 percent in 2016-17. But he put in the work to improve and has seen it pay off.
After bumping his foul shooting up to 58.0 percent the following year, he sank a career-best 70.5 percent last season, including 77.3 click with the Knicks.
“DeAndre, I’m going to talk about him. He was a horrible free throw shooter. Horrible,” Allen said. “And he got better. He put in the work. He put in the work. Now he’s like, what, 75 percent last year. So there’s definitely a lot to look on, there’s an improvement level I can make.”
As for Jordan, Atkinson insists the ankle injury that cost him the past two games isn’t serious. He first hurt it Nov. 4 versus New Orleans and aggravated it. Jordan is probable for Friday.
“It’s not tragically [bad], like man this is long,” Atkinson said. “It’s definitely day-to-day. He aggravated it early. Like every guy he wants to get right back out there. I think it’s a little sore and I expect him to be back soon.”
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