DETROIT – Jarrett Allen ran off the court after a Nets win and jumped to high-five a fan about 11 feet off the floor. The crowd in that section buzzed at Allen’s above-rim-level leap.
Then, Kyrie Irving came through.
The ovation swelled for the the star who had just dazzled with 45 points.
“I’m going to pretend they’re cheering for me, Ky,” Allen said as he and Irving ran toward the locker room.
“They are cheering for you,” Irving replied.
That was rare affirmation for Allen, who has repeatedly appeared overlooked with Brooklyn.
Despite Allen proving himself as a quality young starting center on a playoff team last season, the Nets signed DeAndre Jordan – notably a friend of Irving and Kevin Durant – to a lucrative four-year contract last summer. Jordan, 31, is nearly a decade older than Allen.
A couple months ago, Irving said it’s glaring Brooklyn needs another piece or two to complement himself, Durant, Jordan, Garrett Temple, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert. Omitted from that list: Allen.
Ironically, Allen is the type of low-maintenance role player the Nets could really use around Durant and Irving.
Allen brushed off noise about Jordan supplanting him, kept his starting spot and bonded with the veteran center. Allen also said he spoke to Irving and quickly put that quote behind him.
“I wasn’t really concerned,” Allen said. “At the end of the day, I can’t really control any of that. So, I’m not going to worry about it has been my philosophy.”
It’s a philosophy that fits Allen’s no-nonsense game.
He runs pick-and-rolls. He finishes lobs. He protects the rim.
Durant and Irving will dominate the ball next season. That leads to complications with Dinwiddie and LeVert, two young players who are also better on the ball. Allen carries no such fit concerns.
Allen has possessed the ball just 53 minutes all season. For perspective, that’s less than Nets backup shooting guard Theo Pinson, who’s not even in the rotation. It’s less than half as much as Montrezl Harrell, another energy big.
Yet, Allen still contributes. He ranks 46th in the league with 4.3 PIPM-based wins added.
Allen ranks among the league leaders wins added per 100 minutes of possession:
Helping without the ball is such an important skill next to Durant and Irving. Allen checks that box.
How much do the Nets value it?
Allen will be eligible for a contract extension this offseason. His 18.7 career win shares (and counting) entering his rookie-scale-extension window put him in line to slightly outpace comps like Greg Monroe, Kenneth Faried and Jonas Valanciunas.
The Pistons reportedly didn’t offer Monroe an extension in 2013, watched him accept the qualifying offer then lost him to a max deal from the Bucks in unrestricted free agency in 2015. The Nuggets gave Faried a four-year, $50 million extension in 2014. The Raptors gave Valanciunas a four-year, $64 million extension in 2015.
The salary cap has escalated significantly since. The extension market changes each year, as deals influence each other.
Allen ranks second in win shares among players who’ll be eligible for rookie-scale extensions this summer, behind only Heat big Bam Adebayo:
Obviously, Allen isn’t as good as Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell. Win shares probably overrates efficient, but limited, bigs like Allen. There is also a surplus of effective centers around the league, lowering all their values.
But this speaks to a truth: Allen has consistently produced in his role.
In Brooklyn or elsewhere, expect that to continue.
“He’s too good, obviously,,” Dinwiddie said, “not to be a factor in the league.”