Trick Or Treat Tony Allen…
Bill Simmons gave him the nickname back in 2010, while Tony Allen was still with the Boston Celtics. Since Chris Wallace convinced Tony to sign with the Memphis Grizzlies, the moniker has not been used as much – but it is still as applicable today as it has ever been.
It is, and always has been, a mixed bag with Tony. You have to sift through a lot of loose candy corn, occasionally finding some full-sized candy bars. Most of the goodies happen on the defensive end, where his relentlessness can wear an opponent down, causing restless, nightmare-filled evenings. You get some electrifying steals that bring you right up out of your seat, fist-pumping and high-fiving… The highs are pretty high.
Then, the ecstasy of that steal turns into gut-wrenching, hide-your-eyes horror as you realize Tony Allen is leading a fast break. Or, worse yet, he’s on a one-man breakaway. The lows are pretty low.
Tony has a new contract, and it looks like he is going to be a Grizzly for a while. Along with that comes the tricks as well as the treats.
During this preseason, I have been able to watch several of the games, both live at the arena and on television or online. Each and every time that the ecstacy of a steal turned into the horror of Tony coming downcourt on a drive, I have uttered, right out loud: “Give it up!” in hopes that Tony will find an open teammate, or just pull up and realize that going in for a contested layup is scary. Real scary.
During the final preseason game against Houston, I was watching on LeaguePass when Tony swiped the ball and took off. He got fouled before he crossed halfcourt. Out loud, I said, “Thank God!”.
In the order of likelihood of something good happening, let’s prioritize. I think Tony getting fouled quickly tops the list. That is the best outcome, but one that he really cannot control. In fact, if I was a defender, that is the last thing I would do when TA takes off on a fast break.
I think second on the list is having Tony pull up and wait for a teammate, possibly setting up in the halfcourt.
Third would be Tony taking it all the way to the rim for a throwdown dunk. If he has to attempt a layup, that is just too much of an adventure.
Fourth would be having him pull up for a three-pointer, since that has a better chance of going in than one of his patented layup attempts.
Absolutely last on the list would be having him go in for the layup.
The action highest on that list, that Tony has control of, is pulling up and waiting on a teammate. I think the team should convince Tony that, when he gets a steal, this is precisely what he needs to do. The only exception should be if he feels he can get to the rim for the dunk.
The Grizzlies also run a halfcourt offense, and Tony is one of the five players involved in that. (Maybe they should paint one end of the court orange, and the other end black.)
I was at the games in Orlando and in Atlanta. In the half court, Tony would spot up in one of the corners, attempting to spread the floor by drawing out one of the defenders. The problem became obvious. The other guys, realizing that Tony is not a threat from out there, didn’t bother to defend him. All the other teams in the league were apparently taking copious notes during last season’s conference finals.
In each of those games, when the Grizzlies would drive the lane, and then pass the ball back out to the high post, Tony would slash to the basket. This may have worked to get him open if he had been closely guarded, where he could beat his defender on the cut. But, until he can make some three pointers, it is hard to see that working.
And then, on opening night against San Antonio, Tony Allen hits all three of his attempts from beyond the arc. Hmmm. In fact, he did it like this: