There was plenty of doubt surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers’ chances of remaining competitive in the aftermath of crushing injury blows to Darius Garland and Evan Mobley. It’s gotten to the point where some even think that Donovan Mitchell could end up being a trade candidate. But Jarrett Allen is doing his best to keep the Cavs afloat. In fact, with the Cavs in need of some more “dynamic” play with two of their best players out due to injury, Allen has expanded his game with aplomb.
On Wednesday night, during a 140-101 victory over the hapless Washington Wizards, Allen had one of his best all-around offensive games as a professional. Not only did he carve the team up on the interior and on the glass, finishing with 17 points and 19 rebounds, he also dropped seven dimes, which is one shy from a career-best effort.
And it’s in the way that Jarrett Allen got those assists that was eye-opening. Allen was functioning as a playmaking, handoff hub at the top of the key, with the likes of Donovan Mitchell and Max Strus swirling around him like he was Domantas Sabonis. This did not go lost on head coach JB Bickerstaff, as he pointed out how much it frees up the Cavs offense whenever Allen is able to flex his playmaking game.
“It just creates a dynamic where defenses are going to have a hard time making a decision, and then top it off with a big guy who can pass from those spots and now they’re even more on their heels. So it allows you to diversify, but it allows you to just continue to grow and be dynamic,” Bickerstaff said, per Spencer Davies of Sports Illustrated.
Evan Mobley usually fulfills this role for the Cavs, and Darius Garland, when he’s out there, is usually the one commandeering the offense. Simply put, there is a playmaking void for the team, especially when both Caris LeVert and Craig Porter Jr. are coming off the bench, and Jarrett Allen is filling that role with panache.
“If your big guy has the ball and he’s lifted and they have to guard him away from the floor, now you’ve got two-sided action with guys who can create their own shot, who can move without the basketball,” Bickerstaff added.