That was the term head coach Rick Carlisle used to describe the type of player the Mavericks aim to surround Luka Doncic with this offseason.
“Guys that compliment Luka are rugged defenders,” Carlisle said during the June 7 exit meetings. “We are always looking to upgrade the roster. We are always looking for good defensive players.”
So, it’s no surprise that in the NBA rumor mill, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype says the Mavs are among the teams interested in the services of Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen.
Allen wrapped up an impressive fourth season in the association. He averaged 12.8 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks in 29 minutes per game. His per 36 numbers were even more impressive: 15.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks. The 6’11” center also shot 61 percent from the field and 70 percent at the free-throw line, displaying a keen sense of touch and finesse on his shots.
He’s everything Carlisle said Doncic needed in a complimentary player. He has size, length, athleticism, and most of, all he’s “rugged.”
His fit in Dallas:
The role Allen would play within the Mavericks frontcourt is relatively straightforward. He’s a big Dallas wouldn’t need to run plays for. Instead, he’d run the floor, grab rebounds, block shots, and make up for any defensive lapses with weakside blocks and rim protection.
Think of it as a Tyson Chandler type of role in 2011. And that is exactly what Dallas needs.
In the 2020-21 NBA regular season, the Mavericks finished 21st in the league in rebounds per game and 25th in the league in blocks per game. If the perimeter defense broke down, opposing players often had an open lane to the basket for uncontested layups. Having Allen in the middle changes that. At 22, he finished 10th in the league in total blocks with 90 in 63 games played.
Blocks don’t equate to great defensive play, but with Allen, teams on average scored seven-fewer points when he was on the floor instead of off the floor.
Who says he can’t do the same in Dallas?
Allen’s play won’t be the problem. Getting him to Dallas will be.
As a restricted free agent this summer, the Cavs will have an opportunity to match any offer sheet he signs this summer. He doesn’t control his own fate. And with the Cavs trading a future first-round pick for the young center, it’s hard to see a pathway in which they let him walk for nothing in return.
Dallas may be interested in Allen, but actually getting him on the roster is out of their control right now. It will likely take a sign and trade for the Cavs to part ways with Allen. However, as we’ve seen time and time again in the NBA, anything is in the realm of possibility.
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Feature image David Richard-USA TODAY Sports.