Jarrett Allen did not have a great playoff series in the first round for the Cleveland Cavaliers versus the New York Knicks. Allen did not rebound well enough in the last three games of that series, when he and Cleveland were bullied too much on the glass by the Knicks, and Allen’s numbers, like several Cavaliers, were less efficient offensively.
There were stretches where it was as if one couldn’t tell Allen was on the floor.
Now, one should always keep his defensive responsibilities in mind, and Allen is not going to be getting nearly the touches of Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley. Allen is an integral defensive presence, first and foremost, and offensively, regardless of circumstances, he’s going to get most of his production from rolling, diving to the basket, from dump-offs and/or from putbacks.
His production was down in that Knicks series, and the rebounding was not there the way one would’ve expected it to be nearly enough.
That being said, Allen can and should rebound from that series, and he was again rock solid last season, for the most part, until that point. He still had 14.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, and was one of the primary reasons for Cleveland’s defense being the NBA’s best last regular season.
On the offensive end, though, he can be more viable as an occasional on-ball player, and he’ll have to pass up less shots, when those are open at times.
Whether or not the shot creation is there, Allen has to turn down less looks for the Cavs when they present themselves.
Allen did demonstrate some true on-ball growth in the 2021-22 season, when he was an All-Star, andseemed to be showing more development on that end. Allen had 16.1 points per game then, and was taking advantage of favorable situations more it seemed.
With the arrival of Donovan Mitchell last offseason, Allen was inherently going to have less opportunities by default, given his sort of role as an interior big. That was inevitable in the newer situation, and Allen’s splits decreased some.
However, there were less instances where Allen’s on-ball growth was on display, even in some mismatch situations at times it appeared, and he looked to be more passive in other sequences. Allen placing in the 19th percentile in post-up scoring efficiency last season, per Synergy Sports, was somewhat indicative of that, as compared to him placing in the 79th percentile in 2021-22.
Of course, the majority of Allen’s made field goals are going to be of the assisted variety. With his role with the Cavaliers as often a roll-and-cut big, screener and energy player, that’s going to be the expectation.
But, despite that and Cleveland’s updated hierarchy regarding their offensive threats, it was frustrating to see Allen pass up some opportunities for shots in the mid-range area when they were wide-open and in other instances, passing out when he had position. In the playoffs versus the Knicks, he was beyond timid as well, and had 9.4 points per outing, and wasn’t finishing how he’s capable near the basket.
Overall, Allen did not have the postseason he or the team was hoping for, and the trade suggestions to split up the Evan Mobley pairing with him are not going to go away anytime soon it seems.
However, Allen is such an important player for the Cavaliers defensively, and if takes some more mid-range looks near the elbows next season, and is more assertive again on post-ups, that could bode well for his better play offensively in the playoffs. Allen has made some strides as a passer in recent seasons, and is an excellent roller and finisher.
It’s just apparent that when the chances come, he has to pass up fewer looks in the deep paint, and ideally, be more willing to take shots near the foul line when defenses concede those.
If those sort of things materialize on offense, it’d pay dividends this coming regular season for taking pressure off of the perimeter players, and going into the playoffs, Allen should have more confidence.