Jarrett Allen could have had 40 million reasons to bristle this offseason — one for every dollar DeAndre Jordan is set to make over the course of the four-year contract he signed with the Nets.
Allen could have worried about his playing time or his continued progress. He could have been concerned that adding the extra high-profile big man meant the franchise didn’t trust him or his abilities. He could have listened to all the nagging voices that told him to look over his shoulder, that the Nets weren’t quite as interested in developing their homegrown talent now that they had bona fide superstars in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
But Allen — as soft-spoken personally as he is imposing physically — didn’t do any of that, and now, he’s reaping the rewards. That currently includes a strong collaboration with Jordan, continued growth, plenty of playing time, and some very pretty numbers. On Sunday against the Nuggets, Allen, 21, scored 19 points with 11 rebounds, giving him eight straight games with double-digit rebounds — a career-best. It also put him in some heady company. Allen's run gives him the longest streak with 10 or more rebounds of any Net in the first three years of his career since Kenyon Martin.
It also was Allen's 12th double-double of the season, his seventh in eight games.
"I think [the game] is definitely slowing down for me a little bit," Allen said Sunday. "I give a lot of credit to Spencer [Dinwiddie, who's running the point as Irving recuperates from a shoulder impingement]. We have a little connection. We know where each other is going to be and it's just being aggressive on the boards."
The result: Both Allen and Jordan are among some of the league's best defenders, with Jordan registering a defensive rating of 104.0 and Allen coming in at 104.7. Meanwhile, Allen's 66.3 field goal percentage is third in the NBA. His 10.6 rebounds per game is 10th in the league, and his offensive rebounds are up from an average of 2.4 last season to 3.7.
Coach Kenny Atkinson said there's been a concerted effort to pay more attention to offensive rebounding — all with the idea that they could do so without necessarily sacrificing too much of their transition defense.
"That's just him," Atkinson said of Allen's contributions. "He feels like that's a strength of his right now and he's doing a great job."
Not lost on Atkinson, too, is how this could have all gone very, very differently. When the Nets signed Jordan, Atkinson spoke with Allen, and the talk was notable in how uneventful it was.
"It was an easy conversation," Atkinson said. "Some guys would take that as a slight . . . He just doesn’t come at it that way. He’s so concerned with his individual development, individual improvement, and [he has] just general humility. I think he also [figured], 'Hey, this is something that could eventually help me and push me and then [if] I don’t take it as a slight, I turn it into a positive.' That’s just who he is as a person."