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Knicks sign G Leaguer Kadeem Allen to two-way NBA deal

Here’s hoping he’s the next Allonzo Trier

Xavier v Arizona
Allen soars in for a layup during his time at Arizona.
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The New York Knicks have agreed to sign G-League guard Kadeem Allen to a two-way NBA contract, as part of the team’s continued pursuit of finding diamonds in the rough that can be paired with whatever pieces of the current roster remain upon the return of Kristaps Porzingis.

Allen, listed at 6’3” and 200 pounds, is averaging 13.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.6 steals in 30.7 minutes per contest in 25 games this season for the Westchester Knicks. He turns 26 on Tuesday. The Knicks were able to ink the two-way contract after undrafted rookie Allonzo Trier’s two-way contract was converted into a two-year, $7 million bonafide NBA deal in mid-December.

Interestingly, both Allen and Trier played college ball at the University of Arizona. According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, because the two-way contract is being handed out during the middle of the season, Allen will not have the same 45 days that Trier did before the Knicks have to make a decision on whether to open up a roster spot or cut him. Instead, he has 20 days.

Allen was a second round draft pick in 2017, selected 53rd overall by the Boston Celtics. Last season, he played 18 games with the Celtics, including one start, although his minutes were meager. In 5.9 minutes per game, Allen posted 1.1 points, 0.6 rebounds and 0.7 assists, shooting 27 percent from the field overall and missing all six of his three point attempts.

Those stats don’t jump off the page, but you’ll surely be impressed by this video of his first NBA start, in which Allen displays multiple skills that would be welcome at Madison Square Garden. Specifically, at around 1:20 in the video, Allens plays perfect fastbreak defense and blocks Eric Bledsoe’s layup attempt.

That defensive ability is no fluke, as Allen was named to the All-NBA G League Defensive Team last year when he was playing for the Maine Red Claws, which is the Celtics G-League affiliate. According to basketball-reference, Allen’s nickname is Big Bruiser, which is a pretty good nickname for a guy that plays bruising defense.

For more tidbits related to Allen’s defensive ability, let’s turn to his college play. During his redshirt junior season in 2015-16, Allen led the team in steals with 35, according to his bio on the Arizona Wildcats website, and his 27 blocks were the most by any player 6’3” or less in the Pac-12. He continued to be a stellar defender during his senior season in 2016-17, being voted by coaches to the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team and leading the Wildcats in steals for the year with 53.

Allen hails from North Carolina, and prior to playing with the Wildcats he attended Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. In 2014, he was named National JUCO (junior college) Player of the Year by both the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the National Junior College Athletic Association. Both of those institutions also bestowed upon Allen the honor of being named a first-team All-American in both of his seasons at Hutchinson.

His resume certainly checks out, and though much of this article is focused on his defensive capabilities, Allen seems to have the potential to be a solid offensive player as well. See for yourself in this highlight video from one of his games with the W-Knicks, where he showcases a soft touch off the glass on multiple layups, displays impressive court vision with some nifty passes, and drains a handful of jumpers.

There’s also the time he put up 46 points in a G-League game when he was still a member of the Red Claws:

Lastly, enjoy some of Allen’s highlights from the games he’s played this season with the W-Knicks:

Welcome to the Knicks proper, Kadeem! And good luck.