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Jarrett Allen’s next step is already here

Heading into his second professional season, Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen floated under the radar compared to his colleagues. This season, he’s making it clear that won’t happen anymore.

Everyone knows the household names from the 2017 NBA Draft. Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum and Lonzo Ball headline a loaded class. But what about the late first-rounder the Brooklyn Nets selected in Jarrett Allen?

Allen’s sophomore season is popping eyes around the league. For one thing, his 2.3 blocks per game rank fifth in the NBA through four contests, tied with stalwart Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns, and just behind Rudy Gobert in fourth (2.7 per game).

Though he wasn’t a bucket-getting star last season, Allen exhibited tantalizing potential. So much potential, in fact, that The Ringer’s 2017 NBA Re-Draft had him jump up to the ninth overall selection (skip to 14:00):

Exhibited in those clips is Allen’s monstrous size, length and athleticism. He displayed these tools merely in spurts last season, only showing doses of his ridiculous potential as a pick-and-roll finisher.

This season, those spurts have extended. Defenses now pay close attention to Allen as he dives to the basket, which can create space for shooters.

He’s also grown into his body more, allowing him to be more aggressive at the rim. He has botched a few easy layups, but he’s still making 65.6 percent of his looks at the rim (0-3 feet from the basket).

He’s even expanded his range, already taking six 3-pointers this season — one-third of his total from his rookie campaign. At his current rate, Allen will take 70 triples and make 23. That’s a significant step up from his rookie year, and hopefully he surpasses this total (with a touch more efficiency) to threaten defenses in the pick-and-pop.

As a result, the Nets score 10.9 more points per 100 possessions with Allen on the floor. And unlike last season when Tyler Zeller and Quincy Acy were his only competition for playing time, Allen has to beat out Ed Davis and Kenneth Faried this time around. He’s a legitimate finishing option in today’s NBA, and he’s here to stay.

Not in his house

All this is before even discussing Allen’s defense. Look no further than his four-block game against the Detroit Pistons, where he crucified Blake Griffin:

This is no small feat; Griffin just went off for 50 against the Philadelphia 76ers. He’s a legitimate superstar, and Allen denied him on several occasions in this game.

Such a performance is not unmatched though either; he rejected the New York Knicks four times in his second game of the season as well. He’s a legitimate force at the rim, which often deters opponents, but the ones who are foolish to continue with him lurking often pay the price. His 9’1.5″ standing reach is not on Mohamed Bamba‘s level, but he bolsters it with supreme athleticism.

Now with experience under his belt, Allen is timing his rotations better and becoming smarter. He only has nine personal fouls through seven games, 13 fewer than Embiid. He’s learning at an astronomical rate.

Next: Week 3 NBA Power Rankings

Basically, he just needs to grow into his body. That will cede the way for years of the dunk-and-defend era.

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