Tony Allen is a known commodity in the NBA. Every time he hits the hardwood, the Grindfather is going to play hard, tough-nosed defense, dive for every loose ball, electrify the crowd with huge stops, and ultimately play his heart out on both ends of the court. Yet, at the same time, he might be the league's biggest oddity. His personality is mesmerizing, and if you take your eyes off of him for one second, you might miss the most spectacular moment of the night that probably has nothing to do with a basketball play. Even though he can be a loose cannon emotionally, fans still know to expect the unexpected from him. All this is to say don't expect Allen to change a thing entering his 10th year in the league.
Expectations for 2013-14: Allen should continue to be the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and he will need to be if the Grizzlies hope to reach the Western Conference Finals again. Luckily, he will have the help of fellow defensive stalwarts Mike Conley and Marc Gasol to make his job easier. Offensively, expect Allen to continue to struggle on a nightly basis. He will never be a big scorer or possess a consistent layup shot for that matter. However, once or twice a season you can expect an offensive explosion from him where he goes for twenty points.
Areas to Improve: Obviously, Allen needs to improve offensively. He was a liability on that end of the floor during last year's playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs, and it often felt like the Grizzlies were playing 4-on-5 when Memphis had the ball. Just look at his shot chart from the 2012-13 season. Oy.
Areas of Concern: The 31-year-old Chicago native is solid as a brick, but any aging player knows that injury can strike any second. He will need to make sure he gets in that training room and really takes care of his body as it literally continues to decay.
Best-Case Scenario: Tony Allen anchors the Grizzlies defense, and his contributions on that end of the floor far outweigh his abysmal play on offense. Additionally, Allen does not cripple the Grizzlies in the postseason when smart teams realize they don't have to guard him. He also becomes less aggressive defensively in unnecessary situations. Don't get me wrong, Allen needs to continue to take his gambles to make him the player he is, but at times he gambles when it's absolutely unnecessary. He needs to learn to trust his teammates a little more, because he has a very capable supporting cast.
Worst-Case Scenario: His worst case scenario isn't that much worse than his best case, which speaks volumes about Allen. Worst case would be he anchors the defense, but come playoffs time, his lack of any semblance of a jump shot ultimately does the Grizzlies before they reach the NBA Finals. Nobody likes déjà vu, and an offensively helpless Allen destroying spacing when it most matters might be the worst kind for Grizzlies fans.