Lavoy Allen only played 10 percent of his total minutes this season without another big by his side, per NBA Wowy. Due to his relative lack of playing time at the center position, his team-best net rating (6.9) during the regular season can loosely be used as a measuring stick for Indiana's two opposing styles of play.
With Allen next to Ian Mahinmi, the Pacers failed to meet Bird's uptempo criterion by averaging six fewer possessions per 48 minutes than with C.J. Miles playing the role of stretch-four, but the slowed pace did not result in scoring fewer points and the defense, at least temporarily (more on this later), improved substantially.
Allen's nearly exclusive presence in traditional lineups indicates that his high on-court impact should be interpreted as more reflective of the team's level of comfort with the style with which they were better accustomed than his own productivity.
How did Lavoy Allen impress:
Another reason why Allen was the team's regular season Net Rating King is because he rebounded 11 percent of Indiana's missed shots when he was on the floor and converted 62.7 percent of his putbacks, placing him in the 70th percentile league-wide. Considering how challenging it was for the Blue & Gold's 22nd ranked offense to score points, Allen's ability to generate extra possessions should not be overlooked.
Arguably, the 27-year-old power forward found his best fit when he was earning regular minutes in the second-unit alongside Jordan Hill. Indiana put up 107.1 points per 100 possessions with the Hill-Allen frontcourt tandem on the floor, making them the highest scoring two-man lineup of which Allen was a part this season (minimum 650 minutes played). The duo, though not particularly adept at defending against spread lineups, was able to get the better of opposing bench lineups by generating extra possessions and finishing defensive possessions with rebounds.
How did Lavoy Allen disappoint:
There was a reason head coach Frank Vogel replaced Lavoy Allen in the starting lineup with Myles Turner 45 games into the season. Whereas both players struggled to defend against opposing stretch shooters, Turner, who shot above 50 percent from the field during the month of February, was better equipped than Allen to provide the team with offense where his defense lagged.
After earning key wins against the Atlanta Hawks, San Antonio Spurs, and Oklahoma City Thunder while continuing to be picked apart by spread lineups when Solomon Hill was not on the floor, Vogel decided to revisit that which had already proven not to work in order to fortify the speed of the bench.
With Lavoy Allen back in the starting power forward position, opponents looked to victimize him in pick-and-pop situations early and often. For instance, take a look at this play from Indiana's final meeting with the Cleveland Cavaliers in April. Lavoy Allen lacks the the foot speed necessary to recover back to Kevin Love behind the three-point line after attempting to slow down Kyrie Irving in the paint.
It wasn't until Love had scored his fourteenth point in the first quarter that head coach Frank Vogel replaced Allen with the more agile Solomon Hill.
"When Kevin Love got hot in the first half, Lavoy (Allen) was doing a good job; but, to guard his pick-and-rolls with Kyrie (Irving), it's a lot of chasing," Vogel admitted. "And Lavoy wasn't doing a bad job, but it just is that Solo (Solomon Hill) was a better match-up in that situation. So, when he got hot early, we decided to just be proactive in the second half and take that away right away."
These tough covers continued in the playoffs, as Allen also struggled to find his shot both from mid-range (33%) and the restricted area (33%). Unable to contribute on defense or offense, the 27-year-old's season-long positive net rating (6.9) bottomed out during the post-season (-25.4).
The Pacers were 35.4 points per 100 possessions worse with Lavoy Allen on the floor compared to when he was on the bench during their seven-game series with the Toronto Raptors largely because he was ill-equipped to play the role for which either Myles Turner or Solomon Hill was far better suited to fill.
What's next for Lavoy Allen?
In the same way Allen's replacement of C.J. Miles in the starting lineup helped the Pacers rediscover their comfort zone, his later reinsertion in that five-man unit took him out of his own.
Moving forward, it would be in Lavoy Allen's best interest if he was no longer called upon to play the role of the team's metaphorical band-aid, haphazardly used to stop the bleeding of roster flaws. Because limitations aside, Allen's up-and-down season was largely the product of his circumstances.