A wise man once said, “there’s beauty in the struggle.” And while many will disagree with that statement as they go through their own struggles, I’m standing in agreement with it. Those who embrace everything, regardless of what they’re going through, usually make it out on top and better than ever. So I guess that’s why Kadeem Allen has been able to keep his dream alive.
The 6-foot-3 guard is not even two years into his professional playing career and he’s already dealt with a lot. Allen switched teams by going from the Boston Celtics to the New York Knicks last summer. Being cut isn’t new to Allen as the Knicks actually waived him in October. And in terms of his G-League experience, the Arizona product is more than familiar with it given his extended stay with the Maine Red Claws last season. But no matter what, Allen kept pushing forward.
So far this season, Allen has been one of the W-Knicks’ best players because of his energy, tough finishing ability at the basket, and averages of 14 PPG, 6 APG, and 4 RPG. I spoke with Allen following the team’s seventh consecutive win of the season, on Wednesday night.
Arden: Following tonight’s win which has given you guys a league best, 12-3 record, how does the group feel?
Kadeem Allen: It feels good but we can’t become comfortable. While we know of the work, we produce day in and day out, we just have to continue being focused and attempt to have our best performances last throughout an entire game.
A: Whether it’s as a individual or as a team, when you’re having these kinds of streaks, what should your mindset be?
K: We definitely have confidence and rightfully so, but we must take it one game at a time. You can never get to high or to low, so just staying focused on what’s ahead of you is what myself and this team needs to do.
A: You’re someone who has the ability to score timely buckets and play with a lot of energy. How much work did it take to get to this point?
K: I mean, it’s honestly something I did my entire life. I normally don’t act out of character when it comes to my own success, because I’m a big believer in team success. That’s all I care about, even though it feels good to contribute the way I am.
A: Being a former second-round pick and having already experienced a lot in the NBA, what are two of your greatest lessons thus far?
K: When I think about my two greatest lessons, it’s to stay consistent and be coach-able. I learned that pretty quickly because I was told, you never know who’s watching. Especially in the G-League. Every night, there is a chance to face someone who is very talented and probably on assignment or a two-way contract, so there could be someone watching my match-up. I have to be ready and stay ready because of my confidence in everybody, including myself.
A: Just to take it back to your collegiate playing career, you spent time playing ball in junior college, before making it to the University of Arizona. Was there a huge difference you saw first hand?
K: Oh, for sure. I red-shirted my first year and it took time for me to readjust because of my own expectations. It’s not easy going from being JUCO Player of the Year to waiting your turn, because you have several future pro’s in front of you. But in the end, it all paid off as I got my degree and then I was drafted. Those were my two main goals and I did it.
A: How are you able to stay patient despite having to switch teams so early in your career?
K: You just have to roll up sleeves, you know? At the end of the day, this is a business and things will happen. And for me personally, I’ve been facing adversity my whole life so this isn’t new to me. I just focus on working hard, staying true to my craft, and having faith that I’ll return to the NBA one day. It’s all I can do.
A: Coming from North Carolina, a state with a rich basketball history, how would you describe the culture down there?
K: It’s really different, to be honest. North Carolina is becoming a basketball state, in my opinion. I’ve witnessed a lot of guys who came through there and become successful later on. During my playing days there, I was sort of a underdog and faced various big names, so to see me and them in the same place makes me feel good. But North Carolina is definitely embracing basketball more and more.