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TA is Flying…

 

Boston.com

…under the radar.

Celtics fans are used to seeing Tony Allen soar through the air only throw down a thunderous dunk or snatch a rebound away from an opposing team’s big.  Just look at the tape of the last two games and you will see what I am talking about- or just ask Antawn Jamison.

This, however, is just one way Tony Allen is flying these days.  He is also flying under the radar when it comes to the impending Free Agency chatter.  On May 14th, Chard Ford updated his running list of notable Free Agents (ESPN Insider only) and there was only one notable “Allen” listed.  This is, of course, TA’s back-court mate Ray Allen and Ray is rightfully listed in the in the top ten overall (he’s listed one spot behind Shaquille O’Neal which is mind-blowing but that will be a conversation for another day).

This is one of those situations where I wish writers would interview players on other’s value in the league.  I would bet the farm Dwyane Wade and LeBron James (and hopefully soon, Jameer Nelson- but that is yet another conversation for another day) would have more than a few things to say about Tony Allen’s value on the basketball court.

Last year, some team’s put a premium on limited offensive players that are stellar defensively.  Aaron Afflalo and Thabo Sefolosha were both year-long starters for the Nuggets and Thunder respectively, while Dahntay Jones got a pretty nice contract from the Pacers.

According to John Hollinger’s dark magic (Insider only), Tony Allen has the 7th best statistical value of all playoff shooting guards- curiously, one spot ahead of Ray Allen.  He is also 9th on the list of all shooting guards in Value Added and is also the first non-starting shooting guard on the list ahead of guys like Kirk Hinrich, Jamal Crawford, and J.R. Smith.  That is to be expected though, since those guys are all golfing while TA is resting his knees up for Game 2. 

These few stats are also merely just the quantifiable contributions TA is responsible for during these playoffs.  They do not take into account all of the times he has run up the side of the court as Rondo pushes the ball, forcing the defense to stay true or pay the price.  Or the amount of times TA forces the other team’s superstar to give up the ball rather than expend all that energy trying to get by him. 

Saying any of this is not meant to lobby for a starting position or to be mentioned with the heavy hitters hitting free agency this offseason.  I am just trying to give credit where credit is due.  Tony Allen has been an indispensable part of the Celtics postseason roster and it will most likely be reflected in his Free Agent value.

It would behoove the Celtics to exercise their Early Bird Rights on TA for a team like the Pacers snaps him up.

  • Jay P

    Ray should be a reduction in minutes next year after they re-sign him. This means we’ll need TA more, and absolutely they need to exercise Bird rights and snatch him up, he’s going to be a big part of the equation for this team for a few years.

    It might sound crazy right now, but honestly I would be ok with TA as the starter next year. Bring Ray in off the bench, and have him play most of the crunch time minutes, but keep him pretty even with Tony overall. Keeps Ray fresh, and I have no problem with Tony getting 20-25+ a game the way he’s been developing.

  • DeVelaine

    This really is just a huge step in the right direction for him this season. Two years ago, the thing he was most memorable for was blowing out his knees. Now we’ve got great images of “where the @#%$ did that come from” dunks in the playoffs, along with his lockdown defense pretty much every time he’s on the floor… Can it actually be that all of us have finally decided that TA’s figured out the Do’s and Don’t's list?

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    Honestly? Can you believe we are actually having this conversation about TA? Everyone wanted him gone earlier this season. What a great, great turnaround.

  • Dennis Savellano

    Tony Allen got this opportunity and I’m happy he’s not wasting it. Boston needs him back next season as Ray Allen gets older. Yes, I agree that TA should start next year. That would be fun to watch – him and The Little One disrupting the opponents’ guards with their scrambling defense and running fastbreaks after every steal or rebound.

  • Cos

    im as surprised as everyone else, but lets not forget what TA was doing for roughly 2 months prior to blowing out his knee on that after the foul dunk. If my memory is right, he was putting up 20/game, or close to that.

    still a pleasant surprise. Now if he can improve his mid range shooting.

  • Cos

    and on the starting TA next year idea. For short stints, maybe. for the whole season, not unless he improves his shooting. A rondo/ta back court does earn enough respect from an offensive point due to the poor shooting, leading to sagging into the paint which obviously hurts.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Celts draft a 2/3 that can do a bit of what TA can but with a less suspect shooting game.

  • Cos

    meant to be does not earn…

  • Anthony

    TA’s been playing but I wouldn’t just jump at the first opportunity to overpay him. He’s had his ups and downs and I dont believe he’s developed that much since his rookie year. He defends well and is a pretty good slasher but he still has to work alot on his game – jumpshot, shot selection, turnovers, etc. Would you pay him significantly more than you would for Affalo or Sefolosha?? I’m not sure…yet. He reminds me of Rasheed in some respects, in that when he plays well, you really rooting for the guy and the Celts are that much harder to beat. But when he plays poorly, it’s just so easy to pick on all the bonehead plays. I’m just hoping he continues his good play to help put up #18.

  • Jay P

    @Cos

    Don’t hold your breath on that one. His mechanics are god awful, he shoots from the ear. It’s going to take a lot of work for him to change his whole shot.

  • What More Can I Say?

    @Anthony

    TA is WAAAAY better than Sefolosha and Afflalo. Well…his D is good like those guys, but his O is all fast break and attack the rim. Afflalo wishes he could bring it to the cup like TA and Sefolosha is a frickin idiot that takes the bait to shoot outside shots all the time.

    Not even a close comparison in my eyes. To me, TA is 2010 James Posey w/o a 3 and way more explosive. The key is will Danny Ainge keep him, or let him fly the coop like he let Posey do.

  • What More Can I Say?

    @Jay P

    I hear you, but sometimes it ain’t about the mechanics, it’s just about the amount of work the guy puts in his shot. See Reggie Miller. I’m a firm believer in practice makes perfect when it comes to touch. See Hakeem Olujuwon.

  • Anthony

    Dont get me wrong…I think TA is great in a lot of respects but he still has a lot to work on. TA’s has a couple of years on Affalo or Sefalosha so you cant really say how they will develop. TA attacks the rim, which is awesome but he is turnover prone. I’m just saying would you pay TA signicantly more than the other 2? Thats’ debatable.

    I wouldnt say he’s this year’s Posey just yet. Remember when the Celts played small ball with Posey playing the 4 spot?? The guy was always in the right place at the right time and knocked down some big time shots.

  • NHBluesMan

    it’ll be interesting to see what happens next year for sure. Having any one of the Big 3 coming off the bench (assuming we could get a suitable replacement as a starter) would be downright scary. Every one of the Big 3 could extend their careers by acouple years maybe if they became role-players… i doubt that would happen, but man, Ray Allen coming off the bench = instant offense

  • Jay P

    @What More

    I’d agree with you that unorthodox shots can work, Rashard Lewis would be another fine example of this.

    The problem with those, is all of the people you mentioned had unorthodox releases, which they had learned to adjust for over years and years. But they all kept the ball in the front of them. Lewis has this crazy windwill motion where he brings the ball from his stomach up, but he finishes in front of him. Miller’s main thing was he kept his elbow out, which is generally considered a no no, but it worked for him; still though, the ball stayed in front of his head.

    The problem with TA is when he brings that ball to the side, it throws off the whole lining of the shot. There’s just way too much range of motion going laterally, and although he’s obviously (somewhat) learned to adjust his release point to compensate, he’s fighting an uphill battle to ever make that shot serviceable.

    Unorthodox releases are ok, but the shot preparation has to be on point, this is wear Tony struggles.

  • What More Can I Say?

    @Anthony.

    I remember. Posey was solid!!! They are definitely two different players…I was more comparing their impact vs. the players themselves. I’d still take Posey over TA just because of his size and versatility. But TA is very important to this team’s success.

    One thing I noticed about TA is that he really doesn’t know the offense. I noticed Doc, Rondo, and Pierce yelling at him during these playoffs, and they were all on different offensive sets. The guy is in there for D, similiar to Perk. His O is the bonus, and that is what makes him special right now….the fans are getting a helluva of a bonus.

  • hallik

    If TA ever reads this comment. Takes this a puclic apology, cause I also wanted him gone. I am truly amazed that he has played his A$$ off not only on defense but also giving me some highlights and heart attacks off the dunks!! Go Celts! Game 2 LEts go Up Two, back to the Garden!!!

  • Cptn Bubbles

    I never wanted TA gone. I remember TA doing some good things in games, but there was a focus here a lot of times on anything negative he did. I don’t like his jump shot or him over dribbling, but he is a killer at slashing or sneaking to the rim. If I were Doc I would tell TA no jump shots just take it to the rim or pass. He is also great with Rajon on the break as a finisher. He will get physical on rebounds & defense (something Quis seemed reluctant to do). He can really bother & block shots. Once TA is airborne he has the athleticism to contort & twist his torso & his arms to really bother other gifted scorers who have gone airborne. Everyone should slow mo TA when he is up in the air making a defensive play. It’s really something how much he can do while he is up there in the air (hard to see in regular speed). I also think TA & Rajon with their agility & quickness can cause any back court HUGE problems in running their offense. The goal of the Cs is turn the opponent’s offense into sheer chaos. If you had Rajon & KG trap & play TA just off the passing lane of the closest player for the pass I think you could get a lot of steals. It looks like the guy is open for the pass, but TA would be lurking just out of sight baiting them to make the pass so he could pounce. Then, it’s a fast break dunk at the other end. Dean Smith used to do this at North Carolina a lot. It was a simple play, but it worked like magic when you had some quickness on defense. TA is also great at ball denial. If you pressure the ball plus have TA deny his man it is virtually impossible to get the ball to TA’s guy.

    I love to see TA dunk, but his aggressive D is my favorite.

  • What More Can I Say?

    @Cptn Bubbles.

    I second the aggressive D ability.

    @Jay P

    Point taken. Tha man does shoot like Bill Cartwright. LOL! The ball on the side of the head is a bad look, but hopefully that can be adjusted.

  • complexity

    One thing that nobody is mentioning, is if Tony Allen gets injured again.

  • Chris O

    Tony Allen (aka Mini Jordan) is a freak. I love the dude, but like complexity its all about him not getting injured. Had he never been injured in the first place he would be a starter already. My dream is we sign LeBron for the MLE, Ray takes a hometown discount, Pierce opts out and does the same. Our starting 5 would be Perk, Big Baby, LeBron, TA and Rondo. With our next 5 being Rasheed, Ticket, the Truth, Ray and Kryptonate…haha…

  • mitch

    @ complexity….if that happends…i will come find you for jinxing him and the team

  • DRJ1

    Starting TA? Lineup of Rondo, TA, Paul, KG and Perk? I don’t think so. We’d have NO shooters in the backcourt, and only one distance threat… so how to we spread the floor? Nah… if Ray’s back — and I expect he will be — he will continue to start. In fact, I think he’ll be a starter till he retires. He’s in such great shape that retirement will probably come only if he’s too old or injured to play.

    Rondo and TA need to spend the summer developing their jump shots. How sick would it be if they could both shoot reliably? Especially from the arc?

    I’d like to add one more “and hopefully” to your list:
    “and hopefully soon, Kobe Bryant- but that is certainly another conversation for another day”

  • Ray Leighton

    I’m going to mention two points that I have made before — first, that we only have two five-man rotations with significant playing time that have Hollinger winning% > 50%. One of them is the starting lineup that’s around 66%. The other is the starting lineup with TA replacing Pierce — a three-guard set with TA, Ray, and Rondo, which is around 62% (which is as good as the best lineups for Cleveland and the Lakers). In addition, it was this same lineup that Hollinger ranked in the top-five for defensive efficiency. That’s not to take anything away from Paul, but it definitely says something positive about TA (I also happen to like the three-guard set because we can run with it, it plays really aggressive ball-hawking defense, and with Ray on the floor with TA, it mitigates the lack of a jumpshot in TA’s arsenal).

    The second point is that a poll last year of the league’s coaches ranked TA as one of the ten-best defensive guards in the league. The coaches know it. And you can bet that everyone was watching TA do probably the best shut-down of Lebron that anyone has seen for a while. Yeah, TA got help from great team defense, but a lot of that was TA himself. And guess who leads all players in the playoffs in steals per 48 minutes? TA with 3.72 steals per 48.

    TA plays great defense, has great energy, and he has cut way down on the number of dumb shots and turnovers this season compared to last year. He has improved a lot and his defense is invaluable. We have to make sure that he stays.

  • http://www.dobox.com/ Bruce

    I never wanted TA gone. I remember TA doing some good things in games, but there was a focus here a lot of times on anything negative he did. I don’t like his jump shot or him over dribbling, but he is a killer at slashing or sneaking to the rim. If I were Doc I would tell TA no jump shots just take it to the rim or pass. He is also great with Rajon on the break as a finisher. He will get physical on rebounds & defense (something Quis seemed reluctant to do). He can really bother & block shots. Once TA is airborne he has the athleticism to contort & twist his torso & his arms to really bother other gifted scorers who have gone airborne. Everyone should slow mo TA when he is up in the air making a defensive play. It’s really something how much he can do while he is up there in the air (hard to see in regular speed). I also think TA & Rajon with their agility & quickness can cause any back court HUGE problems in running their offense. The goal of the Cs is turn the opponent’s offense into sheer chaos. If you had Rajon & KG trap & play TA just off the passing lane of the closest player for the pass I think you could get a lot of steals. It looks like the guy is open for the pass, but TA would be lurking just out of sight baiting them to make the pass so he could pounce. Then, it’s a fast break dunk at the other end. Dean Smith used to do this at North Carolina a lot. It was a simple play, but it worked like magic when you had some quickness on defense. TA is also great at ball denial. If you pressure the ball plus have TA deny his man it is virtually impossible to get the ball to TA’s guy.

    I love to see TA dunk, but his aggressive D is my favorite.

  • http://www.tonymaxcontractjk.com Rav

    @ Ray:

    Amazing yeah? He plays tight, man-to-man ball-denial D and doesn’t get blown- by (i.e. he doesn’t gamble for steals a la pre-this year Rondo), yet he still has the best steal percentage (not just in the playoffs, in the league this year).

    Also, I never wanted TA gone :). I knew he’d turn out as good as Posey or better, he had all the tools. Death threats and knee injuries can really ruin your game.

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