Allen could give Vogel a headache
The dilemma is on its way, ready to give Frank Vogel a pounding headache. The kind of headache a coach can appreciate, but a headache just the same.
“I’ve always said, the hardest thing about this job is telling guys who deserve minutes that they’re not going to get minutes,” Vogel said before the Pacers defeated Orlando on Friday, 98-83. “There’s some tough decisions there.”
None tougher than the one attached to Lavoy Allen.
Projected as the third center and the third power forward heading into the season, Allen has made himself an indispensable part of the Pacers’ rotation. After scoring 10 points and grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds in 27 ½ minutes against the Magic, he’s now averaging 7.3 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds in 23 minutes per game. He’s a dependable mid-range shooter, a capable defender and a vacuum around the basket, especially at the offensive end. His 52 rebounds of the Pacers’ missed shots lead the team by 24.
But David West returned to the lineup on Friday, replacing Luis Scola in the lineup, and Roy Hibbert could return for Saturday’s game in Cleveland. If not, he’ll almost certainly be back for Tuesday’s game in Phoenix.
What happens to Allen then? Will there be a place for him in the playing rotation?
“Yes,” Vogel said quickly after Friday’s victory.
How will you find time for him?
“I’m not sure,” Vogel said. “He’s not going to spend a lot of time on the bench the way he’s been playing.”
Something will have to give. It’s impractical to consistently work in three players at any position unless the game becomes a blowout. It’s possible that Allen could replace Ian Mahinmi as the backup center – his natural position, Allen believes – or even Scola at power forward. Almost certainly, there will be more injuries that create playing time for him, but when everyone is healthy at center and power forward, Vogel will have to tell someone to sit down and (hopefully) be quiet.
Allen isn’t likely to complain regardless of what happens. He brings new meaning to the term “soft-spoken,” and to be 25 and averaging career highs, and to be playing consistent minutes with a team that expects to be in the playoffs as opposed to the death march going on with his former team in Philly, he sees no reason to worry.
“I’m just going to be prepared for whatever,” he said. “One game I don’t play, one game I start … whatever the situation is … 10 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever.”
Vogel will appreciate that.