Tony Allen doing big things for Grizzlies

Scott Cacciola of the Wall Street Journal reports:

Tony Allen helps give Grizzlies life

Entering Wednesday’s regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Clippers, Allen was averaging 1.8 steals per game and 4.2 steals per 48 minutes—the most since 1995 among players who have averaged at least 1.5 steals per game.

Not long after he signed last summer, Allen had lunch in Memphis with Wallace and Tony Barone, Sr., the Grizzlies’ director of player personnel. Wallace said the meal turned into a “defensive seminar,” during which Allen broke down—in granular detail—how he guards certain players. “We were blown away,” Wallace said.

Allen takes his craft seriously, dissecting DVDs that the coaching staff distributes of upcoming opponents. He gets annoyed when teammates fail to do the same. “He should have taken that home with him,” he said recently, spotting one of the DVDs in a younger player’s locker. His pregame ritual includes taking his laptop into the training room and watching clips of whomever he will defend that night. “Teams run the same sets over and over,” he said, “and guys have tendencies.”

He knows, for example, when a player will try to hold his position in the post by using his left hand. (“I’ll take a swipe with my right,” he said.) He knows which players will pull up for jumpers when they go to their right and which will drive to the hoop when they go to their left. As an on-the-ball defender, Allen was limiting opponents to 34.2% shooting, according to Synergy Sports, a company that charts every NBA play.

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