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Is Jarrett Allen potentially elite? Jury is out (so far)

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

There is no doubt how the Nets brass feels about Jarrett Allen’s future.

“I was really impressed with how he improved during the playoffs alone from Game 1 to Game 5 and how he just kept getting better,” Atkinson said during his end of the season media availability.

“His rebounding improved this year, but he’s a key cog. He’s still 21. I think in our exit meetings yesterday we talked to him about the things we wanted him to work on. I expect him to listen, and in two, three years, to be an elite center in this league. I think he’s going in that direction. I’m really thrilled with his development so far.”

Indeed, Allen just turned 21 in April. But as Michael Scotto of The Athletic writes, opinion is divided among the league’s “talent evaluators,” a term that encompasses GM’s and scouts.

Some matched Atkinson’s opinion...

“He has all the tools,” one Eastern Conference scout texted Scotto. “You can’t teach his length. He’s already gotten a lot better as most guys have on that team.”

“I don’t know if he’s going to be elite, but he’s got the potential to do that. If you look at what the center position will look like in the future, he’s got that stuff,” said a Western Conference executive.

Allen’s mastery of a number of aspects of the game was seen as his greatest asset. On the other side, evaluators who spoke to Scotto said was Allen needed not just strength, which has hurt him in match-ups with bigger centers, but also shot creation and ... a greater desire.

“I don’t see it because he doesn’t NEED to be that good,” an Eastern Conference scout texted. “It doesn’t burn in him like it does in other guys.

Of course, that was the perception of Allen prior to the 2017 NBA Draft. He dropped from the late lottery in mock drafts all the down to No. 22 on Draft Night.

Scotto spoke as well to Allen’s veteran teammates.

“I’ve been saying all year I believe highly in JA,” Ed Davis said during his final media availability. “I think he should be a borderline All-Star center in the near future. He’s got some things he needs to work on. He just turned 21. I know a lot of y’all give him a hard time, but I think he’s going to have a hell of a career, and being here is definitely going help that a lot.”

“How hard does Jarrett Allen want to work?” Jared Dudley said that same day. “Because people talk about the D-Los (D’Angelo Russell) and all that, Jarrett Allen is the key. He’s the key because he’s the foundation. He blocks the shots, he’s (catching) the drop-offs, and so he’s the one that’s going to give you 18 points without even calling a play.”

How fast Allen’s game matures will be critical to the how far the Nets can go. No doubt. An elite center in black-and-white would be huge.