New York Knicks: Kadeem Allen is latest two-way player to shine

New York Knicks (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
New York Knicks (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Kadeem Allen is the latest two-way player on the New York Knicks to shine.

When training camp arrived, the New York Knicks added Kadeem Allen as an extra body on the roster. He was an inevitable cut when the group of 20 trimmed to 15, but the organization kept the Arizona product in the G League.

A 32-game stint with Westchester of 14.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists stood at the top of the pack, along with John Jenkins, and led to a call-up earlier this month once the Kristaps Porzingis trade happened. That became possible when the Knicks also rewarded Allen with a two-way deal in January, taking Allonzo Trier‘s old spot.

Suddenly, with ample playing time amid roster changes, Allen is shining brightly.

The first six games of the 26 year old’s stint were just 5.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists as the backup point guard. He was thrust into this role with Trey Burke‘s departure and Emmanuel Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina‘s injuries that happened within days of each other, so the low statistical output didn’t adjust expectations for the journeyman.

However, Allen built momentum in his fifth and sixth games, respectively, with a combined 12 points, four rebounds and four assists on 5-for-8 shooting in 26 minutes. A larger role over the past two games against the Raptors and Cavaliers saw these numbers jump, especially the career-high 25 points on Monday that nearly snapped New York’s record-breaking losing streak.

In a modern-day NBA of jumpshooting, Allen found most of his success inside the arc, making just one 3-pointer. Five of his makes came inside the paint alone, including some trademark Kevin Knox-esque floaters.

Allen even dished six assists, which matched his total against Toronto as the backup to Dennis Smith Jr.

Does this create a conundrum for head coach David Fizdale? Mudiay and Ntilikina’s returns will eventually cause a cluttered backcourt, however arguable the term “cluttered” is during a 17-game losing streak. Though it’s still difficult to think Allen won’t receive playing time, barring a dramatic fall-off from these past two games.

Allen only has 26 games of NBA experience, so maybe there’s something more to this. He only had 18 limited appearances with the Boston Celtics in 2017-18 and has otherwise spent the majority of a two-year career in the G League, averaging a cool 16.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

That’s not to say Wilmington, NC native will become part of New York’s future, but as Fizdale has willing done in 2018-19, he gives almost everyone a chance to prove their worth. For some, it worked, like Mudiay and Allonzo Trier. Others were inconsistent, like Ntilikina and Luke Kornet.

Next. Five realistic goals for rest of 2018-19. dark

Allen may fall on one end of this. Maybe he’ll land in the middle. Either way, he has an opportunity to stand out when the New York Knicks need any semblance of a positive, for the players’ sakes.