Being Tony Allen

In N.B.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

Guarding Klay Thompson and the rest of the Golden State Warriors, Tony Allen has demonstrated tenacious effort and modelled solid defensive skills for younger players to follow. The Grizzlies have played competitively so far and forced the N.B.A.’s highest scoring team into some poor shooting performances.

Guarding the Ballhandler: Allen turns Thompson to the left and keeps his hands active. However, he is not riding his man or reaching down. Instead, Allen reaches for the ball between Thompson’s hand and the floor. He pops it loose from below as it is on the way up, avoiding a foul. Allen is able to tip it a second time in order to gain possession. If you can pop it loose from an opponent’s hands, you can get it on the way up and reduce the fouls that you accumulate.

Stunting and Stopping the Middle Drive: In transition, Allen runs back and becomes part of the halfcourt wall on the nail so he can support his teammate. As Thompson drives middle, Allen stunts and digs the ball loose. He hits the floor in order to recover the ball and outlets to Tony Allen so the Grizzlies can push the ball. When opportunities arise, seize the moment with an explosiveness and athleticism.

Jumping Passing Lanes: Although he is away from the ball, Allen remains in a ready position on the balls of his feet. His hands are up to shrink the court. First, he watches Steph Curry and anticipates what will follow. When Allen sees that Curry has picked the ball up, he drives off his front foot to jump the passing lane and steal the ball. Next, Allen tags Draymond Green as he rolls through the key and quickly recovers to his man. When Curry puts too much air under a hook pass, Allen jumps in the passing lane and gets another steal. Even when playing away from the ball, remain active and force the offense to make adjustments.

Allen knows that his team needs high percentage scoring chances so once he fights to secure possession, he gets it down the floor so the team can get a transition opportunity. Playing effective offense and defense requires a player to constantly think about the next play.