It's hard to separate the aura that surrounds the modern Memphis Grizzlies from Tony Allen. He's the original "Grindfather" and the emotional leader. Fans look to him for rowdiness, laughter, and identity, while players look to him for an example of hustle and leadership.
He is almost held responsible for the spearheading the massive culture change for the franchise and giving the city something with which to identify: scrappy defense and pure hustle. I expected Tony Allen's numbers to be higher this season than any previous season. Upon further research, however, I was shocked to find the numbers decreased in all categories except - you guessed it - fouls per game.
Ah. That makes a lot of sense.
And I'm not sure I'd want it any other way.
|2012 - Tony Allen||79||26.7||3.6||8.1||44.5||0.0||0.3||12.5||1.7||2.4||71.7||1.5||3.1||4.6||1.2||1.2||1.5||0.6||2.7||8.9|
Reviewing the key numbers above, he averaged 8.9 points, 1.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.5 steals. Far from declaring an "impact player" and further from all-star consideration.
But as much as I love statistical sport analysis, I have to admit: TA's not a guy you can gauge based on box score numbers. Teams give him the big bucks for his emotional absurdity, team leadership, and atmospheric celebration. He finished the season in Allen-like form earning his third-consecutive All-Defensive selection and second-straight all-defensive first team.
He received more first-team votes than any player in the league.
I think of Tony Allen's playing style, and a couple things come to mind. First, he never stops. The guy has so much hustle behind him, nearly every time he's shown on camera he's covered in sweat or running around. Tony Allen is the guy showing up at the opponent's basket at the end of an opposing fast-break. He's the one at the bottom of the pile doing who-knows-what to get the loose ball.
Like I said, he's always going - sometimes even after the whistle is blown.
His numbers don't exactly blow you away. One can wonder how a 8.9 ppg shooter on .445 shooting (0.125 from three) on a team already struggling with outside shooting finds a spot in the starting lineup. However, when the opponent comes into town with a strong perimeter shooter, Tony Allen's your guy.
He gets the sharpshooters, the slashers, the post-up guys, the three-point specialists, and the quick dribblers. Because one of those players shows up every night, there are no off-nights from defense for Allen - and, from time-to-time, Allen finds himself dealing with power forwards and point guards when he needs to help out teammates who can't handle them.
"He's like a free safety in football with his ability to zero-in and focus on the ball," said GM Chris Wallace. "He's all about getting the ball back."
He puts in the work for the defense. Believe it or not, Allen owns an extensive video library containing footage of almost every guard and small forward in the league and seeks to watch them constantly. Known to him as "going to the movies," he has incorporated it into his pregame rituals.This showed in his playoff play, playing stellar perimeter defense against the Clippers and Thunder.
"If you want to go out and check, my fingerprints might be on every player in the league," he says.
Allen's entire style is give and take, turning the ball over at a above-average rate. On the other hand, he causes turnovers at an above-average rate. I'll save you the heartache from watching video and flatout say it now: he doesn't shoot the ball well.
Actually, I'll show you. Because he wouldn't be him without it:
He seeks to cause defensive havoc, and succeeds. If you're a Grizzlies fan, you just gotta learn to accept the good that comes with the bad. In the end, TA's good always exceeds the bad.
2012-13 was a contract year for Tony Allen, and he will undoubtedly seek to explore the open market. However, both he and Grizzlies management have stated the desire to keep Allen in the three shades of blue.
"I'd like to stay, but whatever happens I'm cool with it," he said. "I'll get what's coming to me...at least I hope. They say defense wins games, right? They say it's all about how you play defense, right?"
General Grizznosity: A+
Clutch Performance: B+