BROOKLYN NETS – Let me start of by saying I love The Fro. He’s come a long way since we drafted him and I appreciate what he does on the floor. The rebounds, the screens, the blocks. Let me tell you about the blocks. He had FIVE of them in the home opener loss to the Timberwolves. “One, two, three, four, FIF” to quote the great Dave Chappelle. And with all the great things he does, I can promise you I’ve never once said, “I need Jarrett Allen with the ball in his hand in the closing moment”. It’s just not something I want to see and this is the second time I can remember seeing it.
The first was in the playoffs against the 76ers. I believe it was Game 4. D’Angelo Russell had been our closer all year. He had hit a big three not to long before the moment in question. Russell got a pick from Allen, Allen rolled and Russell passed. Allen got the ball a little below the free throw line. He was mauled and lost his balance as well as the ball. Soon after we’d lose the game. I’m not here to argue whether or not it was a bad no-call by the refs. The game is long gone in our rearview mirror and the league’s Two Minute Report already admitted it should’ve been called a foul. It was the good “basketball play” to make, but for me it wasn’t a good play.
My uncle always told me, “You have to know your personnel”. So understanding my team and its players, I know Jarrett Allen isn’t really used to being in that situation. That’s strike one against him. He isn’t the strongest big. That’s strike two. He doesn’t really have a good handle and can be a little clumsy, yet got the ball around the free throw line. That’s either two steps immediately or at least a dribble. Strike three. And although he is a solid free throw shooter for a big, he is by no means a great one (keep this in mind). This is not the ideal situation for The Fro to succeed.
Fast forward to today, we’re in a similar situation. Kyrie has been carrying us all game. Countless big shots, he had 13pts in the fourth quarter. Then on a drive he sneaks a pass in to Jarrett Allen who gets fouled. Now we’re relying on Jarrett Allen to make two free throws at the line for the win. He only needs to hit one. His rookie year, Jarrett Allen shot 78% from the charity stripe. Last year, he shot 71%. Yesterday, in the clutch (so two free throw attempts) and in the game in general (four free throws total), Jarrett Allen shot 0%. I know these are rare occurrences, but we cannot allow ourselves to be at the mercy of Jarrett Allen on the offensive end of a close game. That being said, the free throw critique does not stop at Jarrett Allen. The team as a whole shot a tick under 58% from the stripe. That cannot happen. Ever! Five of the seven players to attempt free throws shot 50% or below. The Brooklyn Nets were 24th in free throw percentage last season at 74.5% and that needs to change for the better sooner rather than later.