Jarrett Allen remains the same. His afro is freshly shaped up and his attitude seems as nonchalant as ever.
As calm and cool as Allen looks and acts, there’s little doubt that his growth is one of the main focal points for the Nets this season. He sits at a small round table, one that is too small for his own good. It doesn’t matter. He fields questions and replies with short, but honest answers.
“What do the rookies look like,” a reporter (NI) asks. Allen answers, “Rookies ... like I did last year.”
Yup, still the same.
Only, his game is expected to evolve specifically in two areas: Strength and rebounding. The two go hand-in-hand and just judging from media day, he’s certainly bulked up from last year.
“I’d say I put on more muscle mass,” Allen told reporters at Monday’s Media Day. “I haven’t really gone up much in the weight category.”
How can he tell?
“In the weight room, I can lift higher numbers.”
He’s as stoic as ever, but his smile is infectious and his personality reflects one that Sean Marks and the Brooklyn Nets appreciate. It’s the same personality that made pundits think he didn’t love the game of basketball.
Jokes on them.
He may not be aggressive off the court, but he understands the importance of becoming more aggressive on the court. Despite an impressive rookie campaign, Allen got bullied inside the paint by stronger players.
“Last year I didn’t do as well as I wanted to do, so this year that’s really one of my focuses to do better,” said Allen, who averaged 5.4 rebounds in 20 minutes per game.
Luckily for Allen and the Nets, they acquired one of the NBA’s more fundamentally sound bigs in 29-year-old Ed Davis. The Nets were said to be fishing for a serviceable big that could serve as a mentor to Allen while also being OK with backing up the 20-year-old. A few names came up when talking to league sources — Tyson Chandler being one of them.
They got Davis instead without needing to make a trade. Allen was quick to talk about Davis’ impact when asked about the new guys.
“Ed Davis. Playing against him, scrimmaging against him. He’s a great rebounder and that’s an area I need to improve on, so I’m trying to take little stuff from him and add it to my game.”
Indeed. Several insiders like Davis’ fundamentals and the little things Allen can learn from him, such as rebounding. He averaged 7.4 rebounds in 19 minutes per game last year, making him one of the most efficient rebounders in the game.
“Yeah, just taking things he does on the court and seeing how it works for him. If it works for him, then I’ll try and translate it to my game to try and make it work for me,” Allen said about the possibility of Davis becoming his mentor.
Although that nonchalant Allen hasn’t had much time with Davis thus far, he describes the relationship they’ve built in the most Jarrett Allen way possible.
“We say hi to each other in the morning, nothing like best friends yet, but we talk to each other.”
That might have to change if he wants to learn from Davis, who’s currently on a one-year deal. That said, it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if that is literally their relationship all season. Allen is quiet and Davis leads by example. It works.
Of course, the Nets like what they have with Allen as the projected starter and Davis coming off the bench. You’ll see both working heavy in the pick-and-roll, banging down low and running the floor with the guards. However, the one thing Allen will have that Davis likely will not is the green light to shoot from three.
The 6’10” sophomore downplayed the idea of shooting three’s this season, even though Kenny Atkinson’s staff makes him take more than 100 at every practice.
“It’s not going to be as big as people think,” said Allen. “I just want to add it to my game, I want to start building a base for it because I know pick and roll is my main thing, so I’m slowly going to build on the three-pointer.”
Allen explains to reporters how establishing a three-point shot is something the coaching staff is encouraging. The “green light” is one of the best things the staff has given to players, and he says the emphasis on his three-point shooting is strictly going to be from the corner.
Not on the wing, not from the top of the key. From the corner.
“If I’m open in the corner and I have time to set my feet, then I can shoot it. It’s like Brook Lopez two years ago, he worked on his shot so he started shooting more.”
That’s the hope. Lopez, who hit 134 three’s his last year with Brooklyn, serves as the perfect example of Atkinson giving the green light to a player that didn’t shoot many threes in his career prior to the 2016-2017 season. Allen showed potential last year. He hit 5 of his attempted 15 3-pointers — all five coming from either the right or left corner. Out of the 15 attempts, 13 were from either of the corners.
It’s the shortest distance from the perimeter and for Allen, he knows it’s crucial for him to be able to step out and force bigs to step out of the paint.
He might be stoic, his answers are short, but don’t be fooled. This was a huge summer for Jarrett Allen’s growth, something he can’t say about last summer when he was injured.
“Last summer I came in and had little injuries. This summer I’m finally able to play. It’s good because I don’t have to sit out, I can do everything I want to do that I think can make me better.”
He later added, “Now nothing is holding me back.”