Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies Shooting Guard
Tony Allen, AKA "The Grindfather," is beloved by the entire city of Memphis. He started the philosophy of grit n' grind, and his tenacity on the defensive end has earned him multiple honors in his career. This year, Allen was presented with many challenges and some injuries. In the end, Tony led this Grizzlies team and proved to be a capable leader. Undoubtedly, he had some flashes of brilliance this season. For one, he had four 20+ point games this season, all of which took place while star players like Marc Gasol and Mike Conley sat on the sidelines. We saw memorable performances of defensive intensity and leadership from the Grindfather. Tony Allen has always embodied the essence of grit n' grind, and he continued that tradition this season. But, we also saw Tony struggle at times.
Unfortunately, his stats as a whole took a small dip this season. On the year, Allen averaged 8.4 PPG, 1.7 steals, 1.1 assists, and 4.6 rebounds. His defensive efficiency per 100 possessions, which had been 98 last season, was 105 this season. But that number does not necessarily properly represent what Tony Allen brought on the defensive end this year. But it does show that Father Time might be starting to slowly catch up with the 34 year-old Grindfather.
We did witness a small improvement in Tony Allen's three point shooting. He mad 15 threes this season, versus 10 that he made last year.
Of course, there were still plenty of memorable Tony Allen moments this season. His role changed multiple times throughout the course of the year, and during the last stretch he was relied on for a lot on both ends of the court. At times, he stepped up offensively:
And in perhaps the most signature win this season for the Grizz, Allen had 26 points, 5 steals, and 4 assists to lead an undermanned Memphis team to victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road:
His best month of the season was by far was March. He averaged 13.1 PPG and 2 steals. He was perhaps relied on most during March, in which both Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Mario Chalmers, and a handful of other players were hurt.
But during the playoffs, he almost totally disappeared on that end. For the series he shot a miserable 30.3% from the field, and he had only one double digit scoring effort (12 points). He had a total of 5 steals for the series. To compare, Kawhi Leonard (current DPOY) had 11 steals in four games. His playoff performance was underwhelming, but Allen had been dealing with previous nagging injuries that might have slightly impeded his game. Before the playoffs, Tony was dealing with a nagging hamstring injury that kept him out 3 games, so this could have easily affected his play during the postseason.
We all remember the impact Tony Allen has made in postseason past. He locked down Kevin Durant a couple of years ago in a tooth-and-nail series against the Thunder. He gave Steph Curry the most trouble any player has given Curry during last year's playoffs. But this year, he seemed almost nonexistent during the four games against the Spurs. This was partially due to the Spurs' stifling defense, and the fact that Tony Allen just cannot be realistically relied on that much offensively. Tony is meant to be the fourth or fifth option on offense, not the second option behind Zach Randolph.
His worst month of the season was December, but he was out for seven games during this stretch due to injury. In December he averaged 3.7 PPG, 1 steal, 3.2 rebounds, and 0.6 assists.
Tony Allen is already looking forward to next season, and already has made his opinion clear about Mike Conley's free agency:
TA said he sells Memphis to Mike Conley in his own way: "If I see you in New York or one of them places, you got a flagrant foul coming."— Peter Fleischer (@Peter_Fleischer) April 25, 2016
Undoubtedly, if Mike Conley does not return next season, Tony's role on the team would change drastically, and his future with the Grizzlies could be up in the air. If Conley stays, then Tony will go back to his old role at the beginning of this season, which was a fifth option on offense and a first team all defensive player. Overall, Tony Allen had another solid season. But with so many players going down with injury, Grizz fans witnessed many of Tony's flaws as well, especially in the playoffs. Nevertheless, Tony Allen has always and will continue to be the epitome of grit n' grind.
Season Grade: B