It was a position battle that everyone had their eyes on during training camp and the preseason, but when youngster Jarrett Allen won the starting center job from prized free agent DeAndre Jordan, it caught many people off-guard.
The 21-year old has shown flashes of brilliance , but also inexperience. His two missed free throws in the Nets' opener proved crucial as Brooklyn eventually fell to Minnesota in overtime.
Allen poured in 14 points and ripped down 13 rebounds on 83.3 percent shooting against Memphis and appeared to respond well to a slightly bruised ego after being relegated to a reserve player.
Frankly, Jordan is the more win-now player and Allen can still play significant minutes behind him, while still developing his game. Allen's lack of physicality on the defensive side of the ball has seen the Karl Anthony Towns of the world push him around with ease. Jordan will have none of that. While both big man have terrific shot blocking ability, Allen needs to fill out his frame in order to match the size and toughness of the NBA's elite centers.
In the interim, Jordan represents the Nets best chance of stacking up wins in spite of a 1-3 start to the season. Clearly Atkinson's quick trigger on Allen has gotten the former Univesity of Texas standout's attention.
Allen is still the franchise center with the team and his future is very much bright in Brooklyn, but the reality is that he has some maturing physically and mentally to do before he can be handed the permanent starter's role. Jordan will serve as a mentor and big brother so to speak to help bring Allen up to speed on all the nuances of the position.
The great thing about Atkinson's system is that it's a meritocracy and the players most deserving of minutes will receive them and for now based on track record, experience and performance, Jordan is that guy over Allen.