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|Celtics guard Tony Allen suffers a torn ACL last season during the C’s franchise-record 18-game losing streak. (Courtesy of YouTube.com)|
Last year, guard Tony Allen‘s season did not end as planned. Take a minute and check out the YouTube video to the right to play video of Tony Allen’s final in-game action last season on January 10, 2007…
Gruesome isn’t it? And worse, it was after the referee blew his whistle calling a foul to end the play. I will admit that if I had the ability to fly high like that, I would try a flashy dunk after a time out. But, after watching that injury and how it affected the Celtics (they went 12-36 the remainder of the season without Allen), I would probably think twice before ever doing it.
Before the freak knee injury, Tony Allen was coming into his own as a good perimeter defender and a pretty exciting offensive player too. Allen started off and on throughout the early part of the season, and he impressed right out of the gate. In 18 overall starts, Allen averaged 16.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 2.28 steals per game. He really started to pick it up when captain Paul Pierce went down with a foot injury, and in 10 starts averaged 19.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.7 steals.
|Prior to his knee injury, Tony Allen (above) could jump as high as anyone on the Celtics. (Courtesy of aol.nba.com)|
A completely healthy Tony Allen would be a perfect sixth or seventh man (along with James Posey) to give both Pierce and Ray Allen frequent rests. The reality is that Allen’s ill-advised dunk attempt has stunted his growth significantly as an professional basketball player and could’ve done real damage to the rest of his career. Still only 25, Allen needs to prove to management and to himself that he can play at or near the level he was at before the injury.
In a recent interview with NECN’s Chris Collins (click then scroll down to video entitled “Rookie Glen Davis & Tony Allen have high hopes for Celtics” – thanks Celticsblog.com), Tony Allen said he was at about 65%, but should be ready for the start of the season. 65%??? I figured he’d be near 80% by now. When an athlete admits he’s at 65% he must still be hurting. A couple quotes from the interview:
Chris Collins: “Is that knee quite right?”
Tony Allen: “Yeah the knee’s all set. The knee’s about…65%, you know.
CC: How much?
TA: About 65%.
CC: We got a ways to go then.
TA: Ways to go. My aim is for November, so, at the opening of the season, I’ll be ready.
CC: You’re one of the wild cards. You’re one of the guys that people are counting on…Will you be ready to go at full speed, and will you be a top-shelf, A-level contributor.
TA: Yeah, that’s one of my goals. The way I was playing before I got hurt, I was very content at that level. I’m just basically trying to get back to it and come give them that force off the bench.
Tony Allen at 65% is probably a guy that would not play, especially at the beginning of the season. He will be a key contributor this season so long as he can keep that knee in good shape. I hope Allen is true to his word, but I expect him to be at around 80-85% by the time the season begins in early November. Allen may start the season playing 15 minutes per game, but that number should rise towards 25 minutes as the season progresses.
A healthy Allen can score in a hurry off the bench, spelling both Pierce and Allen. Both Allen and Posey will be important in late-game situations when the C’s need a big stop. Celtics nation needs to collectively pray that Allen will be 100% at some point this season, because if he is the bench will become pretty deep.
Tony Allen’s player projection for 2007-2008: