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Jarrett Allen: Rising Star ... who knew?

Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

A few weeks back, in talking to NetsDaily about the team’s progress, Sean Marks nodded in the direction of Jarrett Allen and simply said, “Look at him, he’s 19.”

Indeed, that comment may sum up how the Nets see their 6’11” rookie big man: a shockingly quick learner for someone so young and so inexperienced, having played only one year on a bad Texas team.

After blocking 13 shots in the last three games, Allen now leads the NBA in blocked shots this month, one ahead of Anthony Davis. It’s a small same size, but it reflects his learning curve. He puts his mind to something, he gets coaching, he gets good. Another example: at UT, Allen shot barely above 50 percent from the line. With the Nets, he’s at 77.2.

Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders wrote about Allen this week, talking to him and his coach about his year, one that started off with him missing summer league with a minor hip injury. Everyone thought he’d spend time in the G-League, but as the season got closer, Allen revealed to Anthony Puccio that no, no one had talked to him about Long Island. The die was set: the Nets were going to throw him into the NBA fire.

“I defied some people’s expectations,” Allen told Basketball Insiders. “A lot of people thought I was going to be a G-League guy, and that they were going to have to develop me before I’d be ready to play at the NBA level, but I came in and played well enough to be a starter. I’m playing starter’s minutes now and putting up pretty good numbers. I think I’m doing pretty well.”

Indeed, he is. He had a bit of a confrontation with the rookie wall in the middle of March, but he survived it and in April, he’s averaging 8.2 points on 63 percent shooting; 5.6 rebounds, 3.6 blocks and even hit both his three-point attempts, all in 26 minutes per game. His defense other than the blocked shots needs work and he needs to grow into his body.

Allen can pinpoint the moment when he realized he could play in this man’s league. It was during the Nets win over OKC in Mexico City.

“In Mexico, we played the Oklahoma City Thunder, and I went up to block Carmelo Anthony’s shot. I grew up watching Carmelo forever, so getting to play against him and even blocking his shot, that was that moment when it hit me I was really in the NBA.”

Allen knows where he has to improve and expects to spend a lot of his off-season doing it, starting with strength training.

“This offseason definitely is going to be when I add a lot of muscle. I want to add strength, shooting, and offensive game stuff. [Defensively], I think I’ve done pretty well, and I know I’ll get even better with time, but I need to work on offensive skills, dribbling, shooting, and post work.”

That way, next season, Marks can nod to him again and say, “Look at him. He’s 20.” He’s a big part of the Nets next three years.