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Memphis Grizzlies 2016-2017 Player Previews: Tony Allen

Previewing the expectations and questions heading into the '16-'17 campaign for The Grindfather.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

2015-16 season: 64 games, 8.4 points per game, 4.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.7 steals, 25.3 minutes, .458 field goal %, .357 3 point %

For as much chaos as he causes on the court, Tony's overall contributions season to season are pretty consistent. He's going to be one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. He's going to miss some games. He's going to miss shots. Tony is a known quantity at this point, for better or worse.

Tony's overall impact is contingent upon the players around him. He's most effective as the fifth option on offense, when there are other perimeter players who can shoot around him. For the past few seasons, the combination of Courtney Lee and Mike Conley somewhat hid Allen's offensive deficiencies. One hopes that Conley and Chandler Parsons will create an even more effective environment for him.

One expects Tony to come into the season healthy and highly motivated to earn another multi-year contract. He's expressed a desire to close his career in Memphis, and the team's brass would likely reciprocate that interest provided his production doesn't take a sharp dip.

Projected role

Preferably, the Grizzlies would have Allen in a super-sixth man role coming off the bench and playing somewhere around 25 minutes per game. The (quite welcome) financial constraints necessitated by the signing of Chandler Parsons, though, slot Allen into the starting 2 role where he might have to play more minutes than is ideal.

Tony has played 64, 63, and 55 games in the past three seasons, respectively. The games missed have usually been for nagging aches and pains more than catastrophic blowouts, which is both encouraging and concerning. Will the aches and pains increase with age? Or can the new coaching and training staffs better manage his minutes and health to maximize his impact?

Best case scenario

Tony has a shooting epiphany and becomes a 40% three point shooter, a la Jason Kidd late in his career...hey, one can dream right?

So that won't happen, but other players on the wing could develop and allow Allen to keep his minutes down throughout the season. The increased space provided by the outside shooting of Parsons, Troy Daniels, and others may prove to be a catalyst for Tony's slashing and backdoor cuts to thrive. Tony could stay healthy throughout the season and into the playoffs, and the motivation of the anticipated final contract of his career propels Tony to his best season since '12-'13.

Lots of things have to go right in order for this scenario to take place, but it isn't inconceivable. Fingers crossed.

Worst case scenario

The athleticism he's relied upon to be one of the NBA's elite defenders starts to fail him in old age. An increased workload proves too much for the 35-year-old and injuries take him out for extended stretches of time. Other teams' defensive schemes increasingly exploit his lack of range to the detriment of the other starters.

Ugh. I don't like this and all of it sounds entirely possible (read: plausbile). Let's move on.

Overall expectations

Expectations for Tony (and Z-Bo, for that matter) should be tempered to account for age. The golden age of Grit n' Grind, for them, has come and passed. That said, Allen can still be an effective cog in an overall system when plugged into the correct role.

If the team can surround him with shooting and effective help defenders, Tony will thrive. He could return to 1st team all-defense form. But it depends on his health, the health and effectiveness of those around him, and his motivation. That's a lot of variables, but it's entirely possible that Tony could be extremely effective in this new Grizzlies' era. Time will tell.