Brooklyn Nets big man Jarrett Allen was one of the most electrifying shot blockers in the NBA during his rookie season last year.
Allen, 20, has put up several defensive highlights since coming into the league. As a rim protector, he has shown a supernatural ability to absolutely shut down opposing shooters. On the offensive side of the ball, he has been one of the most efficient players in the league at his position when playing in a halfcourt offense.
Allen recently caught up with HoopsHype before his home opener at Barclays Center against the New York Knicks.
I’d like to hear your impressions of this team from the early parts of this season.
Jarrett Allen: My first impression of this season is that everybody loves it here. The coaches, the GM, all the players, the ballboys – they love it here. We have one mission that we’re trying to do and we’re on the same path.
As a shot blocker, you’re already regarded as one of the best in the league. I see you smile just hearing the word shot blocker. What are some things you’ve done heading into your second season to get better?
JA: I’d say knowing who I’m playing against is the biggest help for me when it comes to shot blocking. I know how they move, their tendencies, knowing when and how they jump, it’s really a tremendous help.
And then on the other side of the ball, how have you most been able to improve as a scorer and offensive playmaker?
JA: For me, it’s been trying to expand my range. That’s where the NBA is going. I’m going to start shooting three-pointers this year.
How much time have you spent with your fellow Texas center Mo Bamba?
JA: Actually, my first year when I got to Texas, we played on the same USA team in Chile. I got to spend time with him there. I love the guy. He is an amazing guy – smart, intelligent, I think he’s going to have a good year. All of our bigs from Texas are shining. He is another shot blocker, he has a 7-foot-10 wingspan. It’s incredible. He is willing to learn, he is going to do amazing things.
What is some advice you wish you could have given yourself now that you are one year into your experience as a pro?
JA: Take your time and learn. When I first came into the league, I wanted to know everything. I’m realizing that it’s going to come with time. I know rookie seasons are really for learning. I wish I had slowed down in the very beginning and just absorb things more fully. You can’t retain everything.
What are some of the things you look for when you check statistics?
JA: I check up on myself and the other people in my class. I grew up playing against them so I like knowing how they’re doing. It’s good to see when they’re doing well.
Off the court, I’d love to hear about how living in New York has helped shape who you are and your fit in the city.
JA: I’m starting to realize the depth of the city. Much like how I am with the NBA, I’m trying to take it all in when it comes to New York. That’s just a terrible idea. It’s impossible. There’s so much to it. I’m just trying to learn my area. Everything I need is walking distance. I take the train sometimes. I want to be a known New Yorker. The train isn’t as bad as people think.
How often do you get recognized when you’re on public transportation?
JA: Not as often as you’d think. I try to stay low key. I take the less traveled routes.