When the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired big man Jarrett Allen last season in the multi-team blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, he was projected to give them an inside presence defensively and on the boards, but not a whole lot on offense other than easy baskets off lobs and fast breaks.
He put up 13.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots per game in 51 contests with the Cavs last season, which was pretty identical to the numbers he contributed while in the New York City area.
But this season, Allen grew his game in a somewhat unexpected way.
He boosted his scoring average to 16.1 points a game, and he was rewarded with his first trip to the NBA All-Star game.
What should the team expect from him next season?
Allen Has Become A Force
By making his way to Cleveland, Allen has gone from a somewhat dysfunctional team where Kevin Durant supposedly lobbied for the washed-up DeAndre Jordan to start over him, to an organization in the Cavs that appears to be building a culture.
“I think us, this year, playing how we did, how we were on and off the court – I truly think we made that ‘Cavs Basketball.’ Being together, playing for one another and making this team a family.”
– Jarrett Allen ✊ pic.twitter.com/EKJwGO4Z90
— Cavaliers Nation (@WeAreCavsNation) April 19, 2022
Cleveland’s players, especially fellow first-time All-Star Darius Garland, made it a point to get Allen loads of easy baskets, and he took full advantage.
When combined with the immense athletic ability and skill of rookie and fellow frontcourt starter Evan Mobley, it’s no wonder the Cavs often punished teams at or near the rim.
Allen is equally adept at protecting the rim on defense, and it led to many highlights for him this season at both ends of the floor.
DISGUSTING BLOCKS & DUNKS!
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) April 21, 2022
The Development Of The Rest Of The Team Is Key
Garland averaged 8.6 assists per game this year, which was sixth in the NBA, and some feel he is not only a great passer but a generational one.
He has shown an uncanny ability to thread the needle into the paint and find guys like Allen for easy baskets.
As long as Garland continues to improve as a passer, Allen can continue to get his scoring average to creep upwards.
Another way the Cavs can help him improve is by playing at a faster pace and creating more fast breaks and early offense.
They ranked just 26th in pace this season and 20th in fast-break points, and improving in both categories would help Allen, as he is athletic and does a good job of changing ends quickly.
— NBA (@NBA) November 2, 2019
Jarrett Allen getting wild in transition these days 👀🔥pic.twitter.com/S3zntQnZm6
— Off the Glass (@otgbasketball) February 25, 2021
Cleveland is one of the NBA’s best defensive teams, but it ranked low in steals and blocks, so improving in those two categories would also result in more transition opportunities and more dunks and layups for Allen.
More Things That Would Help
The Cavs are rumored to be in the market for a veteran point guard who can play behind Garland, and getting such a player would help ensure that Allen keeps getting fed underneath when the 22-year-old point guard isn’t in the game.
Ultimately, Allen should look to develop enough of an outside shot to improve his value, and a consistent low-post move he could rely on would be gravy.
But until then, the Cavs should hope for about 16-18 points per game from Allen and hopefully continued improvement in defensive effort and recognition of different situations on that end of the floor.