DALLAS - At the beginning of the 2020-21 NBA season, there was plenty of excitement surrounding the Brooklyn Nets. At the time, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would join add star-studded talent to a lineup of intriguing players such as Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen.
The buzz escalated when James Harden decided he had enough with being a member of the Houston Rockets. With the chance to add an elite talent, the Nets ended up getting a four-team blockbuster deal done.
As part of the trade, Allen was dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers. After showing intriguing signs of potential in a fortified frontcourt, the Cavs opted to keep Allen move on from Andre Drummond.
Allen, 23, is coming off an impressive 2020-21 campaign during his split time with the Nets and Cavaliers. In 63 games, he posted averages of 12.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks.
There are some factors in play that are worth taking into consideration but it isn't a lock for Allen to return to the Cavaliers despite him being a restricted free agent.
This leads us into the next point...
How Could The Mavericks Acquire Jarrett Allen?
The Cavaliers have the ability to match any offer sheet that Allen ends up signing in restricted free agency. There are a few outcomes that may need to occur for the Mavericks to be well-positioned to land him.
It's clear that whatever ends up amounting of the Cavaliers' No. 3 overall selection in the upcoming 2021 NBA Draft it will play a pivotal role in the situation.
The most likely scenario is that Cade Cunningham will be the No. 1 selection but there is uncertainty beyond that choice. This is where it certainly becomes an interesting scenario to think about.
After the Pistons make their selection, next on the clock will be the Rockets at No. 2. Will they take Jalen Green? That's a possible outcome that has been "gaining momentum" lately. If so, that would leave Evan Mobley -- this year's top big man prospect -- as the consensus top prospect remaining.
The Cavaliers using the No. 3 pick to take Mobley would open up the possibility of a sign-and-trade scenario involving Allen. Cleveland no longer want to give an extension north of $100 million to keep around a center with a lesser ceiling.
Given that Allen is a restricted free agent, the Mavericks would need to provide actual value in a potential sign-and-trade scenario. This would be similar to when the Milwaukee Bucks agreed to deal Malcolm Brogdon to the Indiana Pacers.
There are a few teams to watch in regards to a potential pursuit of Allen in free agency. The Charlotte Hornets have been the other team most linked to Allen other than the Mavericks in recent NBA rumors.
It will be important to track what happens with Richaun Holmes in free agency, too. The Hornets will undoubtedly be in on pursuing one of the top centers in this year's free agency class. If there are two intriguing options that become available, then that makes things easier for Dallas.
How Would Jarrett Allen Fit With The Mavericks?
The fit with Jarrett Allen and the Mavericks would be quite simple when evaluating how it works with Luka Doncic. As long as a player can make an impact without needing to initiate, they will fit in nicely with one of the NBA's elite playmakers.
Allen is an interior play-finisher that thrives at doing the dirty work near the basket. He would be the primary rim roller in the screen-and-roll game with Doncic while remaining active as a dunker's spot threat and offensive rebounder when not.
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One of the limitations in the playoffs the Mavericks could not overcome was Porzingis' inability to reliably create offensive for himself. That could continue to be an issue for a few reasons.
Allen has a limited post-up repertoire as his weak frame prevents him from maintaining balance when going middle and having to battle physically. He relies too much on turning baseline into a hook that he doesn't consistently convert, too.
Allen is consistently effective on post-ups when he flashes middle before receiving the entry pass. This is his best option when posting up mismatches, particularly after a pick-and-roll switch or a semi-transition situation when he gets the early seal.
Many of the situations when flashing middle require simply turning and using length to finish. Is that a sustainable practice within the context of a playoff series where the other team is going to catch onto that? Of course, that remains to be seen.
Where Allen makes his mark offensively is through being a play-finisher feeding off of what the unit's playmakers can create. On a Luka-centric Mavericks team, that is a critical element to a role player potentially being successful in Dallas.
The most frequent play type Allen was involved in during his 2020-21 campaign was cuts. The Cavaliers involved him in simple dribble handoff sequences as well as involving him as a strong-side relief option and stationing him in the dunker's spot along the baseline.
There is a lot to like about what Allen provides in tradition high pick-and-roll situations. He is an aggressive finisher around the rim that tries to dunk everything he can. However, he also has a push shot in floater range he can turn to against drop coverage when needed in addition to being capable of inside-hand scoop finishes.
One of the more intriguing attributes that Allen brings to the table is his aggressive offensive rebounding. At his size, he would provide an impact in that area that no option on the roster can necessarily match, particularly against starter talent.
Where the potential fit for Allen becomes rather tricky will be a theme when evaluating any big man's trajectory with the Mavericks. Is there enough foot speed in the frontcourt if Porzingis is tasked with sliding over to the four?
That answer is a resounding no. The Mavericks simply cannot pair a big man with Porzingis in the frontcourt and expect to have a passable defense. It needs to be one or the other.
If the Mavericks do not feel as though Porzingis is the answer at the five spot, the team should absolutely pursue a player like Allen as a replacement -- not as a complement.
Allen would bring a needed presence as a rim protector that Porzingis has simply lacked since his meniscus tear. He's not as mobile as let's say a Myles Turner, but he certainly can make an improved impact as a paint protector.
From a dollars and cents perspective, it's certainly worth questioning whether paying big money for a non-elite big man in 2021 is worth the investment. That's always going to be a question.
Even when the Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert, goes up against the same LA Clippers' small-ball group, it ends up being too much to overcome. However, will the Mavericks have to run into that level of execution of small ball again? If so, how long will this Clippers team remain together?
Right now, it's clear the Mavericks need to carve out a clear identity around Luka Doncic and need the necessary talent in order to do so. Allen would help in this regard and looking at the Atlanta Hawks, initially overpaying may be required.