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Memphis Grizzlies 2016-2017 Player Grades: Tony Allen

Health was not TA’s strength at the end. But his defense remains close-to-elite.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Allen’s season will unfortunately be tarnished with a giant “what-if” in any conversation had about him. What if the Grizzlies had Tony Allen for their playoff match-up against the Spurs? This conversation will linger over him into the off-season. It is a valid conversation to have as we all saw Memphis play San Antonio to the wire with Kawhi, who Allen would have guarded, carrying the team. However, this season for TA shouldn’t be a “what-if”, it should be testament to how year after year he carries the Grizzlies defensively.

Tony Allen is not going to jump off a traditional stat sheet with incredible averages. He does his job and impacts a game in a different way. This season he had a career high in minutes played per game at 27 minutes per game and had the his most points per game in the past five seasons at 9.1 ppg. With his biggest weakness being his shot, he still only shot 46.1% from the field and a shocking 27.8% from three-point range. Because of a higher paced offense, Allen actually recorded a career high in offensive rating at 105.6, which is metric that estimates how many an individual player produces per 100 team possessions. However, as mentioned, that’s not TA’s game.


The statistical areas where Tony Allen shines are his defense (which everyone knows by now) and his rebounding, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

First, let’s look at his defense. Tony Allen, once again this year, proved he has a great case to be on the 1st or 2nd Team All-Defense. Even though his defensive rating was a little worse (104.4) than years past, he still flourished creating disruptions any time they ran through his side of the court.

For the Grizzlies specifically, he was the anchor defensively. TA always had to guard the opposing team’s go-to guy. He had to give it all on the defensive side on the ball with the stars of the league. Year after year he does his job. He once again had the best defensive rating among the starters on the Grizz. Plus, he led the team in steals per game. If the team had a steal it was coming from him 32.1% of the time which perfectly shows the type of defensive boost he gives this Grizzlies team.

In addition to his defensive upside, TA has improved in a category that has changed his game entirely. He has rebounded better than he ever has in his career. For this season, Allen had a career high in rebounds with 5.5 rebounds per game, .9 rebounds per game more than his second-best season. Also, he is averaging a career high in offensive rebounds as well. All of this coming from the guard position.

Looking more specifically, Tony Allen’s offensive rebounding numbers are some of the best in the league. He has become an elite offensive rebounder which is one of the most cherished focus for a team trying to keep possession off a miss. As analyzed in more depth here, he led all guards who played in more than five games with an offensive rebounding percentage of 9.5%. That is absurd rebounding skills from the guard position gobbling up 9.5% of the offensive rebounds available from a missed shot.

For the Grizzlies specifically, he was a big impact on the boards for this team. Allen led the guards in all rebounding per game and ended up fourth on the team on the glass. It was a perfect combination of factors for him. Marc Gasol playing beyond the arc cleared out the paint for the guards to crash and earn some extra rebounds. Being a wily veteran, he knew all he had to do was insert himself down there and missed shots were sure to find his way.

These two part of his game will be what teams want in the bidding war for him later on in free agency.

The Future:

Tony Allen has been everything Memphis basketball is built off of. He brings the grit, he brings the grind. However, there is an inevitable decision coming up for the Grizzlies and Tony Allen. He goes into this summer being a free agent and Memphis has to decide whether or not to fork over the money. TA will be a hot commodity for a number of teams that want to bring a gritty veteran into the clubhouse that can change the culture just like he did for Memphis years back.

As he says, “I can’t see myself being [any]where else” and that could be good news for the people of Memphis because they may not need to have the money to match a big offer from a team with salary cap freedom.

2016-2017 Overall Grade

The basic statistics want to tell you that Tony Allen had a down year. But, we need to look deeper than that. TA brings more to a team then just his stat line. He makes plays that are not recorded on a final box score. Teams have to strategize around him causing disruption that is integral to the Grizzlies overall defense.

At 35 years of age, this season for him was all about playing smarter, not harder. He perfectly positioned himself for more rebounds a game. At 6-4, he can use his size to fight down low against the guards who are expected to box him out. This worked beautifully and something that will be looked on favorably by NBA teams for the rest of his career.

This could be the final season for Tony Allen in a Grizzlies uniform. One that will be attached with a “what if?”. Even if he doesn’t come back and moves on with his career, Grizz Nation must appreciate everything he has done for the culture of Memphis Basketball. He became a part of the Core Four and brought Grit and Grind basketball to the city. In this new era, Memphis may not be able to move forward with TA on the roster.

If it is the last of him, the Grindfather will never be forgotten.

Grade- B

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