2012 Sixers Player Preview: Lavoy Allen

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

What to expect in 2012-2013 from the only man to whom ESPN issued a public apology.

A three-time All Atlantic-10 All-Defensive team honoree. Named to the All Atlantic-10 First Team two times. The first Temple player to average a double-double since Ollie Smith did it in the 1970-1971 season. Temple's all-time leading rebounder.

With a pedigree like the one above, you'd never know that Lavoy Allen didn't touch a basketball until eighth grade.

As a high school senior checking in at 6'9" and 215 lbs, you're not only expected to possess exceptional basketball talent; you're also expected to be blessed with the ability to seriously posterize defenders with acrobatic slam dunks.

But Allen wasn't handed those talents -- gift-wrapped and artfully adorned with a fancy bow -- in the same way that his counterparts who had come through years of the hyper-charged AAU circuit had been. Instead, with his nose to the grindstone, he worked tirelessly to make up for the years of development he hadn't had.

In a sports climate where one's shot at stardom is predicated on his draft ranking, or the number of his world championship rings or the endorsement contract he signs, reliably-talented guys like Lavoy Allen often fall through the cracks.

And that's exactly what ESPN was banking on last season when it named Allen the worst player in the NBA in its preseason poll.

Even though he was drafted 50th overall by the Sixers, the fine folks at ESPN's TrueHoop blasted him for what they called a "low motor" and not playing in a "power conference."

Out of 500 players, Allen was dead last. So very last, in fact, that ESPN didn't even bother with an explanation for his ranking.

Fast forward nine months later to the Sixers in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Celtics.

Instead of riding the pine as most media pundits alluded would be his postseason role, Allen was posting up an average of 11.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game -- all while moonlighting as the Sixers' only answer to guarding Kevin Garnett.

There's a now-infamous picture from Game 2 of that series with KG practically frothing at the mouth while snarling into Allen's ear. He is unflappable, unaffected, undeterred.

And that's the Lavoy Allen that Sixers fans should expect in the 2012-2013 season.

After the series against the Celtics, his strengths are obvious, but maintaining consistency on the court is crucial.

Allen's court vision and passing ability are excellent for his size, but far too often he defers to the pass. With guards like Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner in the backcourt, his preference to pass is not necessarily a detriment -- unless the streaky duo runs cold.

Toward the end of last season, Allen appeared to be more successful in tempering his pass-first inclination and, in turn, found ways to create his own shot.

Combine that with brute strength and rebounding ability, and the Sixers have their answer for dominant post scorer.

They know it, too, locking Allen down for another two years with a contract extension worth $6 million this past July.

And ESPN knows it now, too.

The TrueHoop staff that compiled the 2011-2012 rankings issued the rookie a public apology in a blog post entitled "Sorry Lavoy," acknowledging their oversight and promising a better rank this fall.

But did the TrueHoop staff make good on its promise?

They sure did.

Mr. 500 became Mr. 232, skyrocketing 268 spots up the charts from last fall.

Looks like Allen, who graciously and humorously embraced the negativity, may have to change his Twitter handle (@Mr_5hundred).

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