As of Sunday night, the Brooklyn Nets Summer League season in Las Vegas came to an end at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The final score of 85 to 77 makes the game seem much closer than it was, but it was really more or less over mid way through the third quarter.
Despite that, they played well and even more importantly, Jarrett Allen was on his way to yet another big summer league game. His recent stretch of great play allowed him to make his way to Vegas’ First Team for Summer League.
— NBA (@NBA) July 15, 2019
So let me start this by congratulating the Fro Show on his stellar play and well deserved First Team slot. But why was Jarrett Allen out there in the first place? Why was the Brooklyn Nets starting center from last year on the floor with rookies and NBA prospects trying to prove they belong in the league? What did he have to prove?
Well, I have a theory.
And keep in mind, it is just that. A theory. I do not know for sure. I have not talked to Jarrett Allen nor do I know him personally that would allow me to know how he thinks. That goes for any and every person in this theory. I am just making assumptions based on everything in front of me. With that being said, let’s take a dive into this.
How It Began
So June 30th, the new start of NBA Free Agency, DeAndre Jordan was reported to come to the Brooklyn Nets with both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. He’d officially sign later, but he was basically on the team. As reports came in and the dust settled, the only logical question was asked more and more. Who would be the starting center for the Nets?
Would it be the veteran with multiple All-Star appearances or would it be the young guy who has started every game since earning his starting job?
Well, when he was asked about it, Jarrett started with the humble approach, but then quickly backtracked with more honest words.
Jarrett Allen just got some competition when the #Nets added DeAndre Jordan. Does starting matter to @_bigjayy? “A little bit. Obviously not a little bit; everybody wants to start. But in this case, it doesn’t matter to me.” Then he added “I’ll just say it: I want to start."
— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) July 6, 2019
Now these aren’t his exact words, a few choice words were excluded, but we get the point. The Fro wants to keep his starting job. There is nothing wrong with that feeling, that candor, or the competitiveness that it brings. As long as it’s a healthy competition.
Sean Marks and the Brooklyn Nets decided to make their rim protector available to their Summer League squad. He was joined by Rodions Kurucs, who also played big minutes for the Nets last year. With Kurucs and other players, I’m sure the organization was looking for general improvements and feel for the game.
With Big Jay, I believe they were doing more. There’s almost always a method to the madness. Jarrett Allen is a really mellow guy. He actually has a personality a lot like Brook Lopez. Just calm, cool, collected, and a little goofy. You rarely ever see them angry, but I think Sean Marks was doing a little poking of the sleeping giant that is Jarrett Allen. Trying to awake that potential he has within him.
In the first Summer League game against the Dallas Mavericks, albeit in a close loss, Jarrett Allen was able to rack up 19 points 8 rebounds and swat 3 shots. Although this was a good game, it’s not exactly the dominance one would expect from a third year player in the Summer League. Especially one that’s a starter and as respected as Allen has become.
Although Kurucs only scored 14 points and grabbed 7 boards, I think more people were impressed with his play. He seemed more under control and more comfortable on the court. He caught my eye more so than Jarrett Allen. I think Allen wasn’t fully engaged in this game. Not to say that he didn’t give his all, but my belief is that his mind was still on that fact that he might lose his starting job.
In the second game against Croatia, I think Jarrett Allen had come to the realization that he could actually lose his job to someone with a better resume. This was easily his worst game of the summer league. He was able to score 4 points, but it came on a putrid 20% shooting. He added 7 boards and 2 blocks to his stat line in a win, but this is Summer League.
Wins don’t mean much here. Summer League is all about showing your skillset and improvement. Wins are a nice bonus prize. Across from his struggles, his teammate Kurucs had another good game putting in 15 points in another efficient showing. I think here Allen mentally gave up and just came to grips with the fact that he wouldn’t be starting anymore.
Now we are here at game 4 of Summer League and I think this is where Jarrett Allen got pissed and motivated. It followed him being a healthy scratch in game 3. He didn’t put up any eye-popping numbers. He had 14 points on 60% shooting as well as 13 boards and 2 swats. This was Allen’s first double-double of Summer League and that would be the standard from that point onward. I’m sure Jarrett Allen heard whispers from the fans on concerns about his play and output. Maybe there
were also some throughout the organization. Although he didn’t put up any 2k numbers, I do believe he made a concerted effort on the boards to show he can have an impact on the glass.
And then it happened. While shooting 73% from the floor and 80% from the charity stripe (he took ten free throws this game), Allen was able to pour in 30 points 11 rebounds 2 blocks and 2 steals in a game where the Summer League Brooklyn Nets dominated the Detroit Pistons.
This is the product that many expected to see from Jarrett Allen. The team ran plays and sets for him. He didn’t let them go to waste. This is probably the most aggressive I’ve ever seen the Fro Show. In my opinion, this was Sean Marks plan all along. Push him, make him angry, give him something to fight for. He wanted to see Allen take this to the task and dominate and we finally saw this. Allen was finally out there making a legitimate case that he belonged in the starting line up rather than his new mentor.
.@_bigjayy_ just doing Jarrett Allen things.
— NBA Summer League (@NBASummerLeague) July 14, 2019
The next game the Nets would play would be against the Timberwolves. In this game, Jarrett Allen was on his way to putting on another dominate performance. He even had some fight in him as he got noticeably angry at a player who got a little too aggressive with him. We don’t normally see that from Allen. Even after Joel Embiid damn near took his head off in the playoffs, Allen was all smiles and joy.
This looked like an Allen who was determined to be tough and prove the point that he could no be pushed around any longer. Because he would later suffer a hip contusion about halfway through the quarter, Allen only played about half the game. Even in this shortened time (20 minutes), Allen was able to post 15 points 14 rebounds and 2 blocks. Imagine if the game remained competitive and if he was able to finish the game out.
I do not write all this to make it seem like Jarrett Allen has a huge ego, but he is human. I do believe he wants to start as he stated and that caused him to wrestle with his emotions. Once he became focused on proving he deserved to start, he played much better against the Summer League competition. Allen showed Kenny Atkinson and Sean Marks exactly what they were looking to see the final few games. Now is that enough for him to keep his starting role? I’m not sure.
There have been suggestions for mixing it up depending on the team. For example, start Jarrett Allen against most and then start DeAndre Jordan against more overbearing centers like a Joel Embiid. Who knows? But Kenny Atkinson certainly has options.