New Nets coach Steve Nash has continued starting Jordan over Allen – even as Allen has outplayed Jordan.
When asked whether Jordan’s relationship with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving or his steady experience out of the gate played a role in his starting, Nash said it all did.
“A bit of everything. He definitely has that relationship with Ky and Kevin. He has that experience as the older player. Caris [LeVert] and JA also have good chemistry. So, it’s a bit of everything,” Nash said before the Nets’ 114-96 loss. “It’s just not something I’m belaboring. Jarrett’s going to play a lot. I love him on the floor. I want to be very careful not to make it like a mini-drama because it’s not.
“They both play. JA has been outstanding and will play plenty, if not the bulk of the minutes, but for right now, he’s just playing those minutes from the second unit. He closed the game against Atlanta [on Wednesday].… I just don’t want it to become some sort of thing where we’re pitting our own guys against each other because I think the group has got a pretty good vibe right now.”
As much as Allen-vs.-Jordan was painted as a right-vs.-wrong, good-vs.-evil battle last season, the two centers played similarly effectively. The big difference: Allen is a decade younger. If he didn’t surpass Jordan last season, Allen was bound to sooner than later.
It appears that time has come. Allen has looked significantly better than Jordan this season.
Should Allen start? He seems ready. But chemistry concerns, which Nash spoke of, are worth considering. Even beyond keeping Durant and Irving happy, Nash should evaluate how well Allen fits with backups like Caris LeVert. In just 23 minutes per game, Allen can mostly be used in optimal lineups.
The bigger question: Should Allen play more? If so, it could be helpful to start him and spread his minutes over a full game rather than pack them into shorter ranges that begins several minutes into each half. Allen plays a style that should fit well with Durant and Irving.
But as much as the coach wants to avoid a “mini-drama,” it does keep coming back to Jordan vs. Allen as a litmus test to how much the franchise is catering to its biggest stars. Unless Jordan slumps or Allen improves, that’s unavoidable.