After a one game absence Tuesday, when the Brooklyn Nets lost to Toronto, Jarrett Allen returned to practice on Thursday, his sore foot ready to go vs the 76ers ... and Joel Embiid.
Allen was replaced by the collective of Dante Cunningham, who started in his place, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Quincy Acy, as the Nets elected to combat the Raptors with speed in favor of size; Jahlil Okafor and Timofey Mozgov, the team’s other seven-footers, sat.
Allen, the only other Net at or close to 7’0”, had started every game at the 5 spot since January 30, his first day as an NBA starter. The University of Texas product, still only 19, said that while on the bench, even for just one game, he was able to pinpoint some things the team could improve on.
“I’d say you see things differently because you normally don’t sit from that perspective,” he said at Thursday’s practice. “You sit on the bench but you’re almost in the coaching perspective where you can’t go in and change anything, you’ll just see what’s going on.”
“It helps in a sense if I can apply it,” he added. “Sometimes when you’re out there you immediately think to say ‘oh, I remember that during the game, I should translate it right now. So just when I apply it, it helps.”
Allen later said that wasn’t the case in a previous lengthy absence early in the season where he was inactive for six straight games between October 31 and November 11, and one more on November 17.
Back then, he was just trying to get adjusted to the league.
“That was the beginning of the year,” he said. “I’m just trying to get used to the NBA, even on the sideline the game’s fast back then. It was harder picking stuff up.”
One of those things he mentioned was transition defense, and as the Nets’ center of the present and future and long-term anchor of defense, it’s an area where Allen’s impact comes into play.
According to nba.com, the Nets have given up the 11th fewest points in transition, have the fourth best defensive field goal percentage (49.5%) and second-best effective field goal percentage (54.9%).
And Allen is a big contributor to the Nets success. According to ESPN, Allen has the highest Player Efficiency Rating on the Nets, ranking at 67th in the NBA with a 17.89. That’s higher than some well-established stars in the league, including the Celtics’ Al Horford or the Trail Blazers’ CJ McCollum. Allen who turns 20 on April 21, is averaging 12 points, 6.8 rebounds while shooting 63.8 percent as a starter.