With the Celtics remaining regular season schedule featuring several teams that have struggled this year and having watched 70+ games to evaluate a roster that only returned 6 players from the '07 season, I've decided to profile every Boston Celtic. I will feature one player each weekday until April 18th. Enjoy.
Player: Tony Allen
Strengths: Allen is at his best slashing to the basket and when healthy his athleticism is impressive. Right now I'm not entirely sure what Allen's strengths are. Although as Tommy Heinsohn likes to point out, Allen is one of the few slashers on the roster after Paul Pierce.
Weaknesses: Unfortunately Allen's athleticism has not quite returned after last season's knee injury. As a result previous strengths - crashing the offensive boards, getting out on the break and perimeter defense - have taken a serous hit. And in the process his nemeses - dribbling and decision-making - are even more pronounced weaknesses.
Go to Move: It used to be getting to the rim and finishing with authority. In fact Allen got a humbling reminder of his limited explosiveness when he blew a dunk against the Heat on Sunday. To be fair Allen took off from a pretty obscene spot. But it is the kind of thing he used to be able to do. Currently he is more and more adept at driving, drawing the defense and dishing off to his teammates for open looks.
Contract Situation: Back in October Marc J. Spears reported that Tony Allen would not be offered an extension and would head into the summer of 2008 a restricted free agent. That puts Allen in a tough place since he has not showcased his talents this season. I would not be surprised if he ended up back in Boston next season, hoping to improve his health and value.
What a Difference a Year Makes: Allen finally appeared to be putting it all together last year after overcoming a knee injury from the previous season and being cleared of any charges stemming from a 2005 shooting. In fact he was averaging 11.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.48 steals. And that was after a slow start with some DNPs and garbage time minutes. But then in January Allen destroyed his knee in a game against Indiana. It has been a rocky road since. At times he appeared to be back only to suffer setbacks. Recently he was slowed by a lower back bruise from a hard foul by Luis Scola.
Shining Moment This Season: Allen had 12 points, 5 boards, a couple of assists and three steals on December 21st against the Chicago Bulls. At least two of his baskets were fast break dunks. Unfortunately it was somewhat of an isolated incident.
If not in Boston which NBA team would make the most sense?: We still have not gotten the chance to see what a healthy Allen can contribute to an elite team. But Heinsohn, amongst others, argue that Allen needs 20+ minutes a game to be effective. Also he needs the ball in his hands on offense about a much as a point guard or elite player. And I don't think Allen is either. To be honest he might be destined to put up big stats as a starter on a bad team. For example he could have thrived in Charlotte over the last few seasons.
Random Point of Information: MarkTwain Johnson was the wounded man from the White Palace Grill shooting incident. I may never get over that.
If he were a Nintendo character: Last season I compared Allen to the frog suit from Mario Bros. 3. That was before the knee injury. Right now I honestly don't know. In four years he has faced two knee injuries, some legal troubles and, according to sources close to the team, a crisis of confidence throughout the 2008 season. I can't think of a Nintendo character that captures that snake bitten profile. I feel like a failure.