As a tentacle of the deal that sent James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, the Cleveland Cavaliers got Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince from the Nets. Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com immediately reported the Cavaliers were thrilled to get Allen.
Allen’s acquisition gave Cleveland a glut of big men. But Kevin Love is still out (and perpetually on the trade block), Larry Nance Jr. is out now too and they’ve shut down Andre Drummond as they look to trade him (much to Draymond Green’s rightful chagrin).
Allen has played 16 games for the Cavaliers thus far, with five starts. He’s averaging 13.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.6 assists per game in a Cleveland uniform. Four of those starts have been in the last five games, with three double-doubles over that span. In the one game he hasn’t started over the last five, he scored 22 points in 24 minutes against Portland. With Drummond deactivated the last two games (that’s the easiest way to say it), Allen has put up back-to-back double-doubles over just under 29 minutes per game.
Allen also started five games for Brooklyn this season, with three more double-doubles in those games. He had five double-doubles in 12 games total for the Nets before the trade. In 28 total games so far this season, he has 10 double-doubles. That’s a pretty nice rate, obviously.
Playing as relatively little he has to this point in his career (24.5 minutes per game), Allen has been something of a per-36 minute “what could he do with more playing time” darling.
So far this season, per-36 minutes, Allen is averaging 16.9 points, 12.4 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 2.2 assists. Narrow that to just his time with the Cavaliers, and it’s 18.3 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 2.2 assists per-36.
Could Jarrett Allen Expand His Offensive Game?
Offensively, Allen is not a modern big man. He rarely shoots 3-pointers (1-for-4 this season). So far this season, nearly 88 percent of his shot attempts have been within 10 feet of the basket (according to Basketball Reference).
But a closer look might be revealing for the future, however marginally. Allen has stretched a little bit this season, with 5.8 percent of his field goal attempts from 10-16 feet out. He never took more than 3.8 percent of his shots from that range in any of his first three NBA seasons, and that was his rookie season before a downward trend. Another 4.2 percent of his shots this season have come from 16 feet out to the 3-point line.
Despite taking some more shots away from the rim, Allen leads the league in True Shooting Percentage right now (69.5 percent). TSR includes free throws in its calculation, but Allen is not dead weight there. He is shooting close to 76 percent from the line this year, after converting just 63.3 percent last season.
Allen is set to be a restricted free agent after the season. By recently reaching the starter criteria, he has boosted the value of his qualifying offer. A qualifying offer that was $5.66 million will now be worth $7.7 million for Allen. Since it allows them to match an offer sheet from another team, the Cavaliers will be levying that qualifying offer without question. A multi-year deal to keep him in Cleveland feels automatic, one way or another.
With the trade deadline next month and Drummond a prime candidate to be moved, the Cavaliers were going to turn to Allen as their starting center before this season was out. The future is now as the Cavaliers turn toward their young talent, and Allen is one of the centerpieces.