Philadelphia 76ers Find Unlikely Hero in Lavoy Allen

Denis DotsonContributor IMay 25, 2012

The 76ers have outscored their playoff opponents by 21 points while Lavoy Allen is on the court.
The 76ers have outscored their playoff opponents by 21 points while Lavoy Allen is on the court.Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

From the minute Lavoy Allen entered the NBA spotlight, he was scrutinized and doubted.

Draft scouts questioned his intensity and commitment to the game, analysts criticized the 76ers for drafting him with the 50th overall pick in 2011, and ESPN rated Allen as the worst player in the NBA in a preseason survey of 91 analysts.

It's easy to say that few people expected the former Pennsbury High School (Pa.) and Temple University product to make the team, much less make an impact in a game. 

Instead, Allen has defied the odds and helped the Sixers reach Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics. The same principles that helped Lavoy Allen reach success in high school and college are propelling the power forward to success in the NBA playoffs: solid rebounding, tough defense, and smart shot selection and court vision.

Allen isn't the kind of player that will go out and put up a double-double on a consistent basis, but his impact is being felt on the court.

Allen's statistics haven't been jaw-dropping, but his 6.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 19.9 minutes per game are solid enough to help the Sixers win games. More importantly, Allen excels at the defensive side of the game. His defensive performances against Carlos Boozer of the Bulls and Kevin Garnett have been sensational, with Allen forcing both big men to take shots outside the paint.

Allen's defense helps the Sixers succeed on the court; they have outscored opponents by 21 points when Allen is on the court, and have been outscored by 27 while Allen is on the bench.

Allen is the prototypical Philadelphia sports story. He started playing competitive basketball in the eighth grade. He played his entire basketball career in the Philadelphia area, and has quietly succeeded at every level.

He holds the career rebounds record at Temple University, and Sixers coach Doug Collins continues to praise the 6'9" power forward for his hard work, basketball IQ, and defensive efforts. Lavoy Allen now has one game to prove that he and his fellow 76ers are the real deal.

Another solid defensive effort from Allen could result in the 76ers first Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 11 seasons. That's not a bad prospect for the "worst player in the league."