The rise to Lavoy Allen's Playoff relevance has been unconventional, to say the least. The Sixers selected him with the 50th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft – a pick in which no one was too fond of at the time. The majority of the readers at Liberty Ballers graded the selection as an 'F', while NBA writers were wildly underwhelmed.
Allen doesn't exactly get you excited after a lackluster four years at Temple.
Lavoy Allen will not be joining us next year.
Allen? Not feeling it.
Lavoy Allen's chances of making the Sixers: 0%
Then, in an unfortunate and bizarre turn of events, ESPN's panel of experts ranked Lavoy Allen as the worst player in the NBA, and Lavoy attempted to sell the authentic jersey the Sixers gave him at the press conference on Twitter, for $150 dollars.
To recap: Lavoy was written off by Sixers fans and writers the minute he was drafted. He was deemed the 'worst player' in the NBA before he ever played a game. And he tried to sell the jersey he held up at the post-draft press conference for $150 dollars. Not the best start.
About a month into the season – after Spencer Hawes went down with an injury – Lavoy got a chance to play. To the surprise of most, he wasn't half bad, and quickly carved himself a role on "The Night Shift". There was even a stretch when he was the team's starting center.
After the regular season, the general feeling on Lavoy was "Eh, at least he's not as bad as we thought. He can be a decent big off the bench. Cool". But during the 2012 Playoffs, he's emerged as the Sixers best big man – equivalent of being the tallest midget – and a key part to their immediate success.
Of the 46 'forwards' who have played at least 20 minutes per game in the 2012 NBA Playoffs, Lavoy ranks near the top in many categories. He's 17th in PER, 10th in total rebounding, 7th in block percentage, 4th in offensive rating, 10th in defensive rating, and 9th in WS/48. Not bad for the worst player in the league.
But the most important numbers of all come from Basketball Value. Lavoy Allen ranks 20th, in the entire Playoffs, in team on/off court +/-. When he's been on the floor, the Sixers score nearly 108 points per 100 possessions, and allow only 97. When he's on the bench the Sixers score only 93 points per 100 possessions, and allow 99.
Any way you slice it, Lavoy has been fantastic during these Playoffs, and his defense on Kevin Garnett was a huge reason the Sixers were able to win game five. But what's Lavoy's ceiling, and where does he fit in the Sixers' future plans?
Despite the impressive on/off court numbers involving Lavoy and the Sixers offense, Allen is still a very limited offense player. His post moves are non-existent, he doesn't get to the free throw line, and the majority of his shots come from 16-23 feet. The numbers suggest he may be overachieving just a bit. He's shooting 79 percent at the rim and 46 percent on long twos during the Playoffs – both numbers are unsustainable. His free throw rate is up from the regular season, but still well below average.
His defense seems more legit. He was a solid post defender in college and does a pretty good job on the bigger, less athletic bigs. He's also able to block a fair amount of shots.
His rebounding – on both ends – is very respectable. A defensive rebounding percentage of 20 percent is generally considered average, maybe slightly above, for NBA bigs. Allen's was 22 percent in the regular season and 20 percent in college. In the Playoffs, his percentage has been 20. An offensive rebounding percentage of anywhere from 8-10 percent is the benchmark for NBA bigs – Allen was at eight percent in the regular season, and nine percent in the Playoffs.
The questions surrounding Allen coming out of college were his effort and motor – neither of which have been a problem in the NBA.
So, what is Lavoy Allen? He's a feel-good story – the ESPN-deemed worst player player is a key component in the second round of the NBA Playoffs – and an overachiever (although his rebounding and defense seem sustainable).
Have the Playoffs done anything to alter his ceiling of a seventh or eighth man off the bench, on a good team? Absolutely not, but that's a lot more than people expected when he was selected 50th overall last season.
Props to you, Lavoy. Keep proving 'em wrong.