The Indiana Pacers have quietly stayed within striking distance of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference despite a myriad of reasons why they should instead be in contention for a high lottery pick. Even more forgotten is one of their key reserves, Lavoy Allen, who has been an efficient player in their frontcourt while David West missed the start of the season.
Allen has had some big games to spark the Pacers this year and is posting career highs in minutes, points and rebounds per game. His 6.9 points and 7.4 rebounds over 21 minutes translate to a very impressive 11.9 points and 12.7 rebounds when averaged over 36 minutes. He also boasts a 19.6 total rebounding percentage which is currently higher than guys like Tim Duncan (more on him later), Dwight Howard and Nikola Vucevic.
The former Temple standout took a few minutes after Indiana’s recent west coast trip to talk about his season and a variety of other topics. The usually quiet Allen does indeed have a lot to say and is armed with a witty sense of humor that may catch you by surprise.
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Dime: The Pacers have had some bad luck and frustrating things happen to them dating all the way back to last season’s All-Star break. What made you re-sign with them over the summer as opposed to going elsewhere?
Lavoy Allen: I just enjoyed the team (last season), the front office and the coaches. I have a really good relationship with them and they said they really liked me, so I decided to sign back.
Dime: Were you close to going anywhere else? If so, where?
Allen: I was actually thinking about going to Washington. It was another good offer I had besides Indiana and it really only came down to deciding between those two teams.
Dime: You have free agency coming up this summer, I know we are long way from that now but are you looking forward to this process? Do you think you will sign another one-year deal to capitalize on the new TV agreement in 2016 or will you be look for stability in your next deal with another team or even with Indiana?
Allen: Ah man, I am not even sure right now. I’m just trying to focus on the season really and get back on the court to help my team. When that time comes that’s when I will really focus on that.
Dime: Speaking of this season, it hasn’t been as bad as many would have expected it to be. Can you identify how the team has kept their spirits up and competitive level high so far?
Allen: We have a lot of talent on our team. Now we have David West back and Roy Hibbert back, but to start the season people were counting us out because we didn’t have Paul George or Lance Stephenson. George Hill was hurt and D. West was out so a lot of people were counting us out because they didn’t recognize the names playing on this team. But we have a lot of talent on this team from the top guy to the 15th guy. As long as we continue to play hard, particularly on defense, we’ll be in every game — it’s just a matter of finishing.
Dime: Can you talk about the coaching influence of Frank Vogel and the front office in terms of their mindset and influence towards this team coming into the season?
Allen: Well Vogel is a player’s coach. He motivates us to continue to play hard no matter what happens during a game, no matter how much we are down. There have been a couple games (this season) where we were down 15 — maybe 20 points and we came back and won or at least came close. As long as our defense is there every night, we can be in every game. Our coaches have a lot of trust in us, so no matter how were performing we know we have to continue to play hard.
Dime: This season you are averaging career highs and have gotten a lot of opportunities due to some guys being injured — as you even alluded to earlier. What specifically did you work on over the summer to improve because you are playing good basketball with the minutes you are getting?
Allen: The main thing was getting in really good shape. I came in this season probably in the best shape of my career so far. That’s allowed me to go after every single rebound and improve my numbers on the glass. I am running the floor trying get my teammates open or even myself open. So just getting in really good shape was a big improvement from the summer.
Dime: Did the Pacers ask you to do that specifically or was that something you decided for yourself?
Allen: It was a little bit of both. Last season when I was still with the Sixers in the last month of the summer (before training camp) I injured my knee and I really couldn’t do anything so I came in a little out of shape and heavy. So I just wanted to be in better shape coming into this season but they did tell me that there was a specific weight they wanted me at coming back and to get my body fat down.
Dime: You’re a big with some range on your jumper. Do you consider yourself more of a traditional power forward or the newer breed of stretch four?
Allen: I think I can do a little bit of both. I can do work in the post but with this team they want the power forward to move to run pick-and-pop. So there aren’t many opportunities to get the ball in the post but I think I’m a little bit of both.
Dime: Where are you most comfortable on the floor? Do you want to be down on the post or do you want to start venturing out to the three point line a little bit?
Allen: It depends on who I’m playing. You know there are a lot of different kinds of power forwards in this league. You got guys like Ryan Anderson who shoot threes and he’s a little bit smaller, so if I’m going against him I’d like the ball more in the post. Then you have the bigger power forwards like the Zach Randolph‘s of the league — real physical down low. So it all depends on who we’re playing to be honest.
Dime: Great attitude to have and I am sure Coach Vogel likes to hear you say things like that. How do you expect your role to change if at all now that David West is back? Has coach said anything to you?
Allen: I’m definitely going to see less minutes. But he [Coach Vogel] told me that once David West came back that I might sit out a couple games here and there, but he’ll try to get me in. He said you know we have some veteran guys on the team like [Luis] Scola and D. West so he will have to give them a couple of nights off every now and then so I can get back in there.
Dime: What have you been hearing on George Hill and Paul George? Hill is supposed to be back relatively soon but how close is he and do you think Paul will play this year?
Allen: George (Hill) should be back soon, like maybe a week or two. Paul keeps talking about how he wants to come back but I think it would be best for him to just sit out the whole year. Kind of like what Derrick Rose did a few years ago when everybody wanted him to come back when the Bulls were in the playoffs against Miami. I think it’d be best, whether we make the playoffs of our not, that Paul should just take the whole year off.
Dime: So you said ‘make the playoffs or not,’ meaning you think you guys have a shot at the playoffs this season?
Allen: Oh yes, definitely!
Dime: Transitioning a bit, you started your NBA career in Philadelphia. What are your thoughts as a player and as a guy who played in that city about their current situation and culture?
Allen: Ah man, that’s a tough one. You know I really like Brett Brown as a coach. Just like Coach Vogel, he’s a player’s coach. I think once he gets the right guys they can be really good. And regarding their situation — if that’s what Sam Hinkie wants to do I have no say in it. I hope the best for them as they go forward. I still have a couple guys on the team that I really like and talk to so I just wish the best for them.
Dime: You have been in the league a few years now, so what’s been your defining or favorite moment in the NBA to date?
Allen: My first year playing major minutes in the playoffs against Chicago and then Boston — there’s nothing like playing in the playoffs. I’m trying to get to that point again. I played in the playoffs with the Pacers a little bit last year but I really didn’t get much time. Getting major minutes in the playoffs is just a thrill; it’s just a crazy rush.
Here’s Allen banking in a jumper before the shot clock expires in Philly’s seven-game matchup against the Celtics in 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals:
Dime: Who are some of your biggest influences within basketball, and even off the court?
Allen: One of my favorite players growing up was Tim Duncan. I used to get made fun of back in middle school because of it. You know he’s not the type of player doing all the highlight dunks and all of that and people think he’s boring to watch. But he’s arguably the greatest power forward of all time. He is definitely one of my main influences growing up on the basketball court.
Dime: So did you get a chance to express that to Duncan when you played against him the first time or in any meeting with him at all?
Allen: Nah not really. I haven’t really had a chance to talk to him. I’d say out of all the players in the league in my rookie year, he was the only one that had me starstruck when I first played against him.
Dime: And getting back to your off the court influences?
Allen: Just my parents, growing up every year seeing them work hard. I have four brothers and sisters so you know five kids is a lot to take care of and put food on the table for.
Dime: I’ve heard you have a pretty good sense of humor, what are some of things you do to make others laugh or just for you to have fun?
Allen: Man, who told you that?
Dime: Word came from your management team that you are a good dude with a good personality so you know we have to ask about that.
Allen: Ah man — well I have a real dry sense of humor. I get it a little bit from my older brother and a little bit from my high school coach. Those are probably the two funniest guys I have ever met in my life.
Dime: Lavoy, don’t be stingy man let us know how you get down to get the laughs flowing.
Allen: I just say random things at random times that people find funny. I’m real quiet, so when I do talk they just don’t expect if from me. I’m not really like a standup comedian type, I just keep it unexpected.
Dime: It’s the subtle delivery I get you. Ok, so off the court what are you doing to blow off steam?
Allen: Just spending time with my family. I just got married this past summer and I have a two-year-old son. So just spending time with them, going to Chuck E. Cheese or Dave and Busters or something; I just like to do stuff with them.
Dime: You picked up the game later than a lot of your NBA brethren. If you weren’t a basketball player, what would you be doing?
Allen: Um, I think I’d be an underwear model.
What do you think?
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