Should the Cleveland Cavaliers still factor Jarrett Allen into the team’s future?
It’s not hard to say the Cleveland Cavaliers were disappointing in the playoffs. They were the 4th best team in the East and they got rolled by the New York Knicks, who are now getting rolled by the 8th-seed Miami Heat, who are without their most dynamic scorer in Tyler Herro. So clearly the Knicks aren’t that good, and if they aren’t, what does that say about the Cavs?
Well, it says, as a whole, the Cavs aren’t as good as we’d hope. But why? Well, a lot of fans pointed out Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley’s struggles in the series, constantly getting out-hustled by Mitchell Robinson, a supposedly inferior talent to both of the Cavs’ bigs.
Mobley, however, made the All-Defense First Team, while Allen did not. Clearly the NBA as a whole is higher on Mobley’s potential as a top-tier player than Allen, but is that fair? Both men were criticized for being too small compared to Mitchell and being bullied off the block by the Knicks’ bigger center. But is that a fair criticism?
Fear the Sword doesn’t think so, and cited a whole laundry list of reasons why Allen isn’t the problem, focusing on the lack of depth on the roster. According to their article and facts we were able to confirm, Allen caused opposing players to see their field goal percentage drop by 9% when they played the Cavs. That put Allen 6th best in that category.
Clearly, Allen can play defense, but did Allen just forget to play in the playoffs? No, of course not. Streaky players like Julius Randle are unknowns in the playoffs, but Allen has never been streaky. In fact, he’s arguably the most consistent player on the Cavs roster. So what happened?
Lack of depth killed the Cleveland Cavaliers
Fear the Sword went pretty deep into things, but the key issue I think the team dealt with, which they also mention, is the lack of depth off the bench. As Fear the Sword writer Tony Pesta writes;
"Allen played 38.1 minutes per game in round one, the second most of anyone in the series (behind Donovan Mitchell). He totaled 190 minutes, 50 minutes more than Robinson and nearly 100 more than New York’s backup center, Isaiah Hartenstein.Carrying a heavy load was the case all season for Allen and Evan Mobley. The two ranked 11th and 4th respectively for total minutes played by any big man this year."
Asking a man of Allen’s size to play that much isn’t a winning strategy. The Cavs didn’t have a backup they could put in for Allen, at least one who also wouldn’t stifle the offense. Dean Wade could have played just as well as Allen on defense, but he isn’t the same scorer Allen or Mobley is. So the Cavs opted not to play him. They also didn’t play Robin Lopez that much, making his involvement with the team a question mark going forward.
When you have to overplay key players, it always goes badly. There isn’t a sport where it wouldn’t. Allen and Mobley didn’t get beat because they were too light, they were just the only two men J.B. Bickerstaff had any faith in, so he overloaded their minutes. You can be the most conditioned person in the world, but everyone has their breaking points and we saw that happen firsthand with the Cavs.
They need a backup big who can spell them for 15-20 minutes combined a game. Not only that but blaming Allen and Mobley for the offensive’s inconsistency isn’t fair either, as that’s on the Cavs’ front office for not improving the players on the roster. As well as thinking that the pair of Caris LeVert and Isaac Okoro was going to be enough to compete when everyone knew they weren’t.
Allen isn’t the issue, and you can win by playing Allen and Mobley together, but you need better perimeter scoring to do so. This goes back to my earlier words that the team needs to overhaul the roster. Maybe not the four pillars of the team (Mobley, Allen, Darius Garland, and Donovan Mitchell) but no one else should be off limits.
Especially LeVert and Okoro.
Adding a reliable big man who can score (even if it’s Wade, just with a better offensive game), and two wing players who can shoot threes will reshape the team’s offense and hopefully ensure the Cavs methodology works.
Blaming Allen(and Mobley) for the shortcomings in the playoffs is an easy, but also wrong thing to do. Players can only succeed when given the chance to and the Cavs front office didn’t give this team the best chance to win that they could’ve.
- Published on 05/11/2023 at 00:00 AM
- Last updated at 05/10/2023 at 23:13 PM