Every year, teams start the season talking about aiming for a title, and almost every year they’re lying. But the Nets not only have championship aspirations but also expectations — and Jarrett Allen is looking forward to meeting them.
“Oh, it’s going to be fun. Not only is it going to be fun, but it’s going to be a new challenge for me,” Allen told The Post. “I know you say you’re competing for a championship every year, but this year we’re at full-throttle towards it. So it’s definitely going to be a new experience that I’m looking forward to, and something I can definitely learn from.”
After injuries sidelined Kevin Durant last season and Kyrie Irving for all but 20 games, their impending returns make Brooklyn a contender. Allen said the biggest key to earning a title will be staying fit … and focused.
“Honestly, being healthy — from injuries, and obviously COVID,” Allen said. “But being healthy, being attentive. From what I’ve seen there can be a lot of distractions on the road to a championship. And just for me just staying in the moment, staying present, seeing the guys with experience, see how they handle things, and try to handle it myself.”
Allen spoke Monday from the Meals + Math Thanksgiving event, hosting kids from Children of Promise. The 25 participants had been left behind by an incarcerated parent, and Allen’s STEM event provided them with math problems to teach them how to shop for groceries, gift cards to help them buy them and a cooking demonstration to show them how to prepare them.
It’s the fourth year of the program, as Allen heads into his fourth season with the Nets. It remains to be seen if he’ll be here for a fifth.
The downside of being a valuable player is becoming a valuable trade chip, with the young center aware his name is being linked in trade rumors for James Harden.
“At the end of the day I’m still going to be playing basketball. Whenever I go into the gym, and whatever happens, I’m there, I’m present,” said Allen, 22. “I’m ready to play for the Nets, I’m ready to learn from everybody there and just go about my stuff and just stay grounded as much as I can.”
Allen averaged career-highs in points (11.1) and rebounds (9.6) as a steady constant in a tumultuous season that saw the Nets part ways with Kenny Atkinson, halt play due to the pandemic, resume in Orlando under interim coach Jacque Vaughn and finally hire rookie coach Steve Nash.
“It was a whirlwind, all of that: Kenny, then Jacque having to step up, the season getting canceled, not knowing where, then ended up going to the bubble,” Allen said. “And then Steve Nash, nobody was really expecting that. I didn’t know what was going on; it was all a whirlwind. But overall I’m really happy.”
Having to help Caris LeVert and Joe Harris carry a decimated roster in Orlando — averaging 13.7 points, 14 boards and 3.4 assists in 10 games — steeled Allen for real playoff pressure.
“It’s going to help me a lot having gone there being the only big man on roster, going in the bubble,” Allen said. “I knew I had to take a load on. And honestly it helped my confidence out, playing against high-level big men and holding my own, learning from mistakes that I made in my past years and trying to improve on those, just building my confidence.”
Author : Brian Lewis