Can Ray Allen still help a contender?
All season long, NBA contenders have been lining up to court Ray Allen. The 39-year-old and legendary sharpshooter will reportedly make a decision about his future after this week's All-Star Game, according to ESPN.com.
The large demand for Allen comes in spite of the fact that the future Hall of Famer hasn't been a plus defender in years. In addition, the days when he could channel his Jesus Shuttlesworth alter ego and carry a team offensively are long gone. The franchises pursuing the 10-time All-Star know this. They likely are pursuing Allen to provide a spark off the bench as a threat from beyond the arc. After all, he is the most prolific shooter in league history and holds the record for most three-pointers made in regular-season play (2,973) and the postseason (385).
However, those teams might be disappointed with the production they receive if they’re expecting the Ray Allen of yesteryear.
Make no mistake -- Allen was still a skilled marksman from the corners last season. And his conversion rate on mid-range jumpers around the elbows was surprisingly robust.
But all the combined shots Allen took from those zones last season fail to match the number of attempts he took on three-pointers above the break, where Allen took a massive 36.3 percent of his attempts. There, he was actually below league-average in accuracy, sinking just 34.6 percent of his looks there.
Note: You can scroll over each zone to see Allen’s percentages compared to the league average.
Allen’s three-point percentage as a whole fell to 37.5 percent last season, his worst mark since 2009-2010. That dragged down his overall field-goal percentage to 44.2, his worst output since his final season with the Seattle SuperSonics (remember them?) in 2006-07.
The Cavaliers have long been regarded as the favorites to land Allen due to his connections with LeBron James and some less famous members of the Heatles. But Cleveland already has three wings (Iman Shumpert, Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Harris) who have shot better from long range in Cleveland this season than Allen did in Miami last year, not to mention J.R. Smith and Mike Miller. The Warriors, Wizards, Spurs, Clippers and Hawks have at least that many rotation players who do the same. In terms of PER, Allen hasn’t been an above-average player since the 2010-11 season. He had a sharp decline to a career-low mark of 12.8 last season, a far cry from the league-average rate of 15.0 and his career mark of 18.6.
Two seasons ago, Allen was Miami’s saving grace, an invaluable piece of the puzzle who saved his team from near-certain Game 6 doom and helped the Heat repeat with smooth shooting throughout the 2012-13 campaign. But in basketball years, age 39 is a lot older than age 37.
For Steve Nash, it was the difference between averaging a double-double on the Suns during the 2010-11 season to beginning a quick descent with the Lakers in 2012-13. Michael Jordan’s age-39 season with Washington signaled that the best two-guard to ever play the sport was clearly at the twilight of his career. For Allen, his 19th season in the NBA could further cement his legacy or leave us all pining for the years when he was still in his prime.