Pregame Post-Ups: An Update on Allen's Rapid Development
Monday, Jan. 29 - Celtics at Nuggets
Pregame – How Kadeem Allen Has Turned from Defensive Stalwart to All-Around Player
DENVER – The Celtics drafted Kadeem Allen knowing that he had the potential to be a game-changing defender. What they didn’t know was that, hiding inside his 25-year-old body, he still had heaps of potential at the offensive end.
“Some guys just bloom a little bit later,” his position coach with the Celtics, Scott Morrison, said of Allen.
Allen, who is one of Boston’s two-way players, was called up from the G-League Monday to be with the team for its final game of a four-game road trip, to be played at 9 p.m. EST tonight in Denver. The call-up was well deserved, as Allen just earned G-League Player of the Week honors today after an offensive outburst that no one saw coming.
Allen averaged 38.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game for the Red Claws over three games last week. His most impressive performance arrived Tuesday against Long Island, when he scored a career-high 46 points to go along with six rebounds, five assists and four steals.
To put this offensive surge into perspective, Allen never once scored more than 18 points in a game during his career with the Arizona Wildcats.
The point guard credits the Celtics environment and coaching staff for helping him to reach offensive levels that he never had before reached.
“Really in the summertime with these guys, the coaches and the players giving me confidence,” he said ahead of tip-off in Denver. “I put a lot of time into shooting the ball, and I know it’s starting to pay off and it’s starting to be noticed.”
Allen has also expanded upon his passing skills. He is averaging 5.0 assists per game through 24 games for the Red Claws, after he failed to average more than 3.6 assists per game in any season at Arizona.
“The other thing he’s improved is his passing,” Morrison explained. “Not necessarily the read part, but just the actual ability to make the pass and deliver the ball.
“I remember I kind of teased him in the summer that he couldn’t pass with his left hand, and I know (Red Claws assistant coach Alex) Barlow and those guys in Maine really worked on that and it’s shown up in his game.”
Boston’s first look at Allen in its system arrived during Summer League play in Utah and Las Vegas. Allen defended at a high level during those games, as was expected, but his offensive limitations were abundantly obvious to the team. Allen and the team recognized that he would not be able to reach the NBA if he was unable develop some respectable offensive abilities.
“I think the consensus after Summer League was that he needed to expand his offensive game,” said Morrison.
That was only six months ago. Now, suddenly, under the tutelage of the Celtics and Red Claws staffs, Allen is showing everyone that he can be an impact player at both ends of the court.
“I’m excited for him,” said Brad Stevens, “because he’s a guy that we think highly of.”
The Celtics believed that Allen had the ability to develop into a much more versatile player than he was in college. They, along with the Red Claws staff, have tapped into previously untapped potential in relation to Allen’s basketball abilities.
He’s a player who can shoot, pass and rebound now, and this is all in addition to his stellar defensive abilities. Still, Allen knows full well what his role is when he is called up to the C’s, as he was Monday morning.
“I’d say more on the defensive end here,” he said with a smile. “In Maine I’ve got to score the ball a little bit more to help my team out, but here they have scorers. I’ve got to be able to make the open 3, make the open shot I get, and play hard on the defensive end.”
He was not able to do those things during the summer, or even during training camp. Now, capitalizing on offensive opportunities has become a regular occurrence for the 25-year-old rookie.
- Marc D'Amico