Player Breakdowns: Tony Allen, The Defensive Leader

SAN ANTONIO,TX - MARCH 23: Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO,TX - MARCH 23: Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images) /

Tony Allen helped build an entire culture in Memphis and now the Pelicans are hoping he will at least help design one in New Orleans.

Signing the 35-year-old defensive stalwart after losing Solomon Hill to an injury, Allen not only brings defensive intensity but a new team mindset.

In theory, making the Pelicans a “grittier” unit than they have been in the past.

Additional lineup options are also a crucial part of Tony Allen’s arrival. The ability to play him either at the two or the three while having him as an option on the bench in case more defense is needed is a massive luxury the Pelicans have nary had in their history.

Tony Allen’s defensive fortitude has been well documented but it isn’t his lone skill set. He wouldn’t have been able to survive in the NBA without some offensive prowess.

He hasn’t shot lower than 45.8% in the last four years and has shot 48% or better eight times in his thirteen-year career. So, how has he done it? With so little jump shooting ability, he has had to focus on his interior scoring. Shooting from 0-3 feet 57% of the time.

His most constant offensive weapon is his off-ball cutting ability. Last year he averaged the tenth most cuts per game in the NBA, solely behind big men that cut constantly in the pick and roll.

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Off-ball cuts are important in any offense but especially in the Pelicans. DeMarcus Cousins is a passing savant when it comes to finding cutters and Allen’s ability to make a smart cut gives the offense one more wrinkle. Those two should quickly find chemistry together as they will likely see the floor at the same time in an attempt to balance out Cousin’s sometimes lackluster defensive effort.

Allen, like most shot allergic guards, also spends some time in the post. He isn’t great at it in any sense of the word but he is capable and isn’t afraid to use his strength. Scoring .75 points per possession on the block, it’s used more as an “in case of emergency” shot when the offense falls apart.

The least talked about aspect of Allen’s game is his ability to grab rebounds. Last season he grabbed the most offensive rebounds amongst guards in the NBA. 29 more than Mr. Triple double himself, Russell Westbrook.

Allen only played 71 games and yet was able to snatch 166 offensive rebounds! An incredible feat for a 34-year-old player who supposedly should have much less athleticism. It is his previously mentioned ability to cut to the hoop that allows him to perfectly time offensive rebounds.

Knowing when your teammates are going to shoot is a large advantage and Allen uses it to attack the boards.

Because of this, Allen averaged 2.1 putbacks per game last season. Defenders are just about forced to pay attention to Allen. Some non-shooting wings allow their defender to float away from them, clogging up the offense, Allen keeps his defenders on their toes.

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The Pelicans continue to build upon strengths with Allen. Offensive rebounding should be a large part of what they do next year and Allen just makes that even more obvious.

The Pelicans may even use Tony Allen to set screens and rim run to the hoop depending on the lineup, using his cutting ability to the maximum as Memphis did at times last season.

Tony Allen was an important signing for a star-studded team searching for an identity.

With DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, and Tony Allen the identity seems pretty clear. Toughness is king and grinding out victories will be the status quo.

Next: Pelicans Predictions: The Pelicans finish 10-6 in The Southwest division

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