Does Tony Allen Still Deserve to Be Memphis Grizzlies' Starting Shooting Guard?

By Nathan Grubel
Tony Allen
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a number of players in the NBA that I would not want to run into in a back alley. One player that comes to mind above quite a few, however, is Memphis Grizzlies shooting guard Tony Allen.

Allen is a tough player who plays angry and aggressive at all times. Allen’s tenacity on defense is contagious, as the team has transformed into a defensive juggernaut during his tenure in Memphis. Not every team has a signature player on defense like Allen, and it has proved worthwhile for the team as Allen has been able to give the Grizzlies a fighting chance in a lot of competitive games due to his ability to lock down the opposing team’s best player for most of if not all of a game.

Allen’s defensive presence has never come into question. Rather, it is Allen’s offense that has been a problem for his entire career. Allen is an athletic guard that can drive to the hoop and get quick dunks or lay-ins, but most of Allen’s shots come from within five feet of the basket. Allen has yet to expand his game and add a consistent perimeter shot. Sure, Allen is capable of hitting a jump shot here or there, but he has never been a knockdown shooter. In an era where shooting is the new thing and lots of shooting can be what wins you a game in today’s NBA, Allen does not have anything to offer in that department.

Can Allen really keep being a starter if all he has to hang his hat on his defense?

While there are other players on the roster that will challenge him for a starting spot such as Courtney Lee, Quincy Pondexter and potentially Jordan Adams, Allen is just a leader out on the floor for the Grizzlies. All of those other guards can play defense as well as shoot the basketball, but not one of them is as ferocious and vocal as Allen is on defense, which has been what the Grizzlies have built their identity around.

Shooting has become one of the most important parts of the NBA game, but it is not everything. Defense and leadership are both important ingredients to a championship-caliber team, and as long as Allen is in the starting lineup both of those ingredients will be there and the Grizzlies will have a great shot at contending for a title.

Shooting is great to have, but great intangibles are even better. Allen should stay in the starting lineup because the Grizzlies need toughness more than anything, even shooting. The Grizzlies can always bring shooting off the bench, but the team cannot establish a sense of toughness mid-game. That kind of mindset can only be brought into play from tip-off, which is why it is important for Allen to be in the lineup at the start of the game.

Do not let offense be the only thing to dictate who starts and who sits, Grizzlies. Allen is more important than that.

Nathan Grubel is a Memphis Grizzlies writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @The_Only_Grubes, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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