If there is one aspect of the Cleveland Cavaliers never absent, it is the continued infectious positivity that emanates from each of Cleveland's top players.
Nobody would have blamed the Cavaliers for folding in the face of defeat after Darius Garland and Evan Mobley went down with long-term injuries in December 2023. At the time, the Cavs had a middling 13-12 record, hardly holding onto a Play-In spot for the postseason. Instead, the Cavaliers have rocketed to the Association's longest current win streak and witnessed star center Jarrett Allen make franchise history with twelve consecutive double-double performances, doing it with a smile on his face the entire time.
As the Cavaliers dismantled the Orlando Magic 126-99 in Kia Center for their eighth-straight win, Allen ended the night with 14 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes of action. Allen was the only player on the hardwood to contribute double-digit rebounds on the night, followed by his counterpart Wendell Carter, Jr.'s nine boards.
Allen's highest rebounding total in a game in this streak came against the Dallas Mavericks with 24 points and 23 rebounds in a three-point road victory. He also recorded a +27 plus/minus score in the first win of this eight-game streak against the Washington Wizards with 17 points and 19 rebounds. Allen's double-double record has not just come from grabbing just enough rebounds and scoring just enough points. He has decimated opponents and risen to the ocassion every night.
Over Allen's historic 12-game stretch, the Cavs sit third in the NBA for rebounds per game at 48.4. Only the New York Knicks (49.4) and Utah Jazz (48.4) are ahead of Cleveland in that timeframe. This has all been accomplished without Cleveland's other prominent big man Mobley who has averaged a career-high 10.5 rebounds per game played this year.
Alongside Donovan Mitchell, Allen has propelled the Cavaliers up to fourth in the Eastern Conference and toward the top of the NBA power rankings. Every player in Cleveland has put forward their best effort in their last handful of games, including career-high scoring nights for both Sam Merrill and Georges Niang over the last month and a half.
Allen has put himself among the Cleveland greats
Few players in the Association have accomplished what Allen has. In the 2020-21 season, former Cavalier Andre Drummond tied Elmore Smith's 11-game double-double streak. Anderson Varejao and Kenny Carr round out the top five streaks with 10 each. With a plethora of great centers in franchise history, including Brad Daugherty and Larry Nance, Sr., Allen's recent stretch has eclipsed them and placed him in the history books.
On the season, Allen has recorded 17 double-doubles in 35 games played. While other elite centers in the NBA have recorded upwards of 30 double-doubles this season, Allen's run only further highlights his fortitude to help the Cavaliers overcome a season filled with heartbreaking adversity. The Cavs have rallied behind Allen both as a defensive stalwart and an offensive hub, completely reinventing their offensive system at the same time as Allen's historic run. Coinciding with his rebounding prowess, Allen has averaged 4.3 assists in his last 12 games alongside 1.5 blocks, 1.2 steals and 18.2 points.
As one of the centerpieces of the newest era of Cleveland basketball, Allen has cemented himself in the Cavaliers ethos for the foreseeable future. From his on-court dominance to his off-court chill demeanor, Cleveland fans are sure to remember Jarrett Allen. For Cavs fans, January 14, 2021, will be remembered as the day of the famed Jarrett Allen trade, regardless of what other names were involved (James Harden who?)
Little needs to be said to emphasize the value Allen brings to the Cavaliers, but the Internet had no problem reminding Frohio just how great he is with battle cries to see him in his second-career All-Star game.
During fan voting, Allen's name never entered the top ten of Eastern frontcourt players. Fortunately for Allen, Cleveland and the basketball world in general, All-Star reserves are chosen exclusively by NBA coaches. Allen has likely cemented himself as one of the premier centers in the East, making a strong case for him to receive the All-Star honors once again.
While Allen's All-Star campaign is inspiring, the California-born center may have his eyes on something even greater - the 2024 USA Olympic team. With all-time greats LeBron James and Stephen Curry expressing interest in a final Olympic race for gold, the search for a dominant frontcourt has begun. Reigning MVP Joel Embiid has reportedly committed to the roster, and Allen may very well have the most compelling case of any American center for the secondary big-man role on the national team.
Certainly, Allen's historic run with the Cavaliers helps his case for both rosters. The Cavs have full faith in Allen's abilities and have allowed him to showcase them to the world to start the new calendar year. With all of Cleveland's growth since Garland and Mobley fell to injury, the future is continually growing brighter as playoffs near.