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Role Players Get Role Player Minutes

Tony Allen has been one of the feel-good stories of the week in Boston, and deservedly so. Three weeks ago, fans almost universally had given up on TA and would have urged Danny Ainge to dump TA and his expiring deal in exchange for someone like Nate Robinson.

Some fans still feel that way, and with good reason. Two or three good games do not erase the memories of  hundreds of out-of-control drives and the no-chance-in-hell shot attempts that helped sabotage the C’s in Game 6 in Chicago last season. But even the most critical of fans have to hope TA develops into an effective role player, because the benefits to the team would be enormous, at least in the regular season.

The last three games have given us reason for optimism, and even Doc Rivers is expressing hope about TA, according to this story in the Boston Herald by Mark Murphy. I was smirking as I scanned the story—until I read this quote from TA:

“When I’m out there for 20 or 23 minutes I produce, but when I’m hurt it’s kind of hard for (Doc) to justify putting me out there.”

This is the role player’s refrain: Play me more, and I’ll produce more. We heard this from Stephon Marbury last season—“I need time to get into the flow of the game and contribute.” For a career starter like Marbury (and, to use an 2009-10 example, Randy Foye in Washington), this is understandable. They are not used to playing for five minutes in the 2nd quarter and having to produce immediately.

But Tony Allen? Like Marbury last season, Tony Allen has to accept the reality of his situation: He is not going to play 20 or 23 minutes in a meaningful basketball game. It’s not going to happen. You will get a few minutes here and there to produce, and if you screw up in those few minutes, you may not get more during that game. You’re a role player. That’s how it is.

In 2008, Tony Allen played 20 or more minutes in 28 of his 75 regular season appearances and none of the 15 post-season games in which he appeared.

In 2009, Tony Allen played 20 or more minutes in 20 of 46 regular season games and zero playoff games.

This season, he has cracked the 20-minute mark in two of seven games.

So he’ll get his 20-minute games here or there, especially in easy C’s wins. And good for him if he can be more productive in those games. I mean that.

But that’s not going to be TA’s role at money time. And if he wants to play at money time, he has to get used to producing in 10 minutes or less.

  • Jason

    Reading the headline I thought this was going to be a theory why Sheldon played zero minutes in a game where KG is out, BBD is still out and Sheed, who is not only out of shape, but also got banged up mid-game. I’m very curious what’s going on there. Is it match-ups? Is he in the doghouse? If so, why?

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